Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 5, pp 1079–1094 | Cite as

Megafaunal-habitat associations at a deep-sea coral mound off North Carolina, USA

  • Andrea M. Quattrini
  • Steve W. Ross
  • Michael C. T. Carlson
  • Martha S. Nizinski
Original Paper


Deep-sea corals provide important habitat for many organisms; however, the extent to which fishes and other invertebrates are affiliated with corals or other physical variables is uncertain. The Cape Fear coral mound off North Carolina, USA (366–463 m depth, 33° 34.4′N, 76° 27.8′W) was surveyed using multibeam sonar and the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible. Multibeam bathymetric data (2006) were coupled with in situ video data (2002–2005) to define habitat associations of 14 dominant megafauna at two spatial scales. Results suggested greater habitat specificity of deep-reef fauna than previously documented, with fishes showing greater affinity for certain habitat characteristics than most invertebrates. High vertical profile, degree of coral coverage, and topographic complexity influenced distributions of several species, including Beryx decadactylus, Conger oceanicus, and Novodinia antillensis on the smaller scale (30 × 30 m). On the broad scale (170 × 170 m), several suspension feeders (e.g., N. antillensis, anemones), detritivores (Echinus spp.), and mesopelagic feeders (e.g., Beryx decadactylus, Eumunida picta) were most often found on the south-southwest facing slope near the top of the mound. Transient reef species, including Laemonema barbatulum and Helicolenus dactylopterus, had limited affiliations to topographic complexity and were most often on the mound slope and base. Megafauna at deep-water reefs behave much like shallow-water reef fauna, with some species strongly associated with certain fine-scale habitat attributes, whereas other species are habitat generalists. Documenting the degree of habitat specialization is important for understanding habitat functionality, predicting faunal distributions, and assessing the impacts of disturbance on deep-reef megafauna.


Digital Terrain Model Live Coral Reef Crest Deep Reef Coral Mound 
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 NOAA Undersea Research Center at UNCW provided funds (to S.W. Ross, PI) for the multibeam mapping cruise on the NOAA vessel Nancy Foster. NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration largely funded (to S.W. Ross, lead PI) submersible fieldwork and some data analyses. Environmental Defense Fund (through D.N. Rader) and NOAA Habitat Conservation Division (through Miles Croom) supplied substantial funds for this project. Friends of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences administered funds and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council provided support. We thank the personnel of the NOAA vessel Nancy Foster, the R/V Seward Johnson and Johnson-Sea-Link submersible. We also thank M.L. Partyka, A.M. Necaise, J.P. McClain-Counts, M. Rhode, E. Cordes and A. Davies for their helpful contributions. Finally, we acknowledge support of US Geological Survey and particularly thank G.D. Brewer for facilitating this research.

Supplementary material

227_2012_1888_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (11 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 10 kb)
227_2012_1888_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (5.2 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 5322 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea M. Quattrini
    • 1
    • 4
  • Steve W. Ross
    • 1
  • Michael C. T. Carlson
    • 1
    • 3
  • Martha S. Nizinski
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Marine ScienceUniversity of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA
  2. 2.NOAA/NMFS Systematics LabNational Museum of Natural HistoryWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.SeattleUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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