Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 8, pp 1721–1732 | Cite as

Size and spatial structure in deep versus shallow populations of the Mediterranean gorgonian Eunicella singularis (Cap de Creus, northwestern Mediterranean Sea)

  • Andrea GoriEmail author
  • Sergio Rossi
  • Cristina Linares
  • Elisa Berganzo
  • Covadonga Orejas
  • Mark RT Dale
  • Josep-Maria Gili
Original Paper


In the Western Mediterranean Sea, the gorgonian Eunicella singularis (Esper, 1794) is found at high densities on sublittoral bottoms at depths from 10 to 70 m. Shallow colonies have symbiotic zooxanthellae that deeper colonies lack. While knowledge of the ecology of the shallow populations has increased during the last decades, there is almost no information on the ecology of the deep sublittoral populations. In October and November 2004 at Cap de Creus (42°19′12″ N; 03°19′34″ E), an analysis of video transects made by a remotely operated vehicle showed that shallow populations (10–25 m depth) were dominated by small, non-reproductive colonies, while deep sublittoral populations (50–67 m depth) were dominated by medium-sized colonies. Average and maximum colony heights were greater in the deeper populations, with these deeper populations also forming larger patch sizes and more extensive regions of continuous substrate coverage. These results suggest that shallow habitats are suitable for E. singularis, as shown by the high recruitment rate, but perturbations may limit or delay the development of these populations into a mature stage. This contrasts with the deep sublittoral habitats where higher environmental stability may allow the development of mature populations dominated by larger, sexually mature colonies.


Symbiotic Alga Rocky Bottom Gorgonian Coral Young Coloni Video Transect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful to S. Requena for her assistance with Fig. 1, to C. Lo Iacono for his assistance with the characterization of the study area, and to A. Purser for revision of the English. A. Gori received funding from an I3P contract of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (Ref. I3P-BPD2005), and S. Rossi was funded by a Ramón y Cajal contract (RyC-2007-01327). This work is part of the 2003–2004 INTERREG project between Catalonia-Languedoc Rouissillon “Pirineus Mediterrànis: La muntanya que uneix” of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas and of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

Supplementary material

227_2011_1686_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (38 kb)
Online resource 1 Density plots of shallow (A–E) and deep (F–J) Eunicella singularis populations. Gray line refers to adult colonies, and black line refers to young colonies (colonies < 5 cm in height) (n = number of adult colonies, m = number of young colonies) (PDF 37 kb)
227_2011_1686_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (6.6 mb)
Online resource 2 (JPEG 6784 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Gori
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sergio Rossi
    • 2
  • Cristina Linares
    • 3
  • Elisa Berganzo
    • 4
  • Covadonga Orejas
    • 5
  • Mark RT Dale
    • 6
  • Josep-Maria Gili
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de Ciències del MarConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia AmbientalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del Vallès, BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Departament d’Ecologia, Facultat de BiologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Centre de Recerca Ecològica i Aplicacions ForestalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del Vallès, BarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Instituto Español de OceanografíaCentro Oceanográfico de SantanderSantanderSpain
  6. 6.University of Northern British ColumbiaPrince GeorgeCanada

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