Mass mortality of gorgonians due to a Cyphoma gibbosum (Linnaeus) population outbreak at Mona Island, Puerto Rico
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KeywordsSpatial Distribution Live Tissue Shallow Water Coral Reef Localize Area
All gorgonians are colonized by extremely high numbers of C. gibbosum including Eunicea sp., Gorgonia ventalina, Plexaura flexuosa, Plexaura sp., Pseudoplexaura sp., Pseudopterogorgia americana, Pterogorgia sp., and the previously unreported Iciligorgia schrammi (Fig. 1b). Colonies with aggregations of C. gibbosum were observed to depths of 40 m and were more frequent on G. ventalina. The average number of snails per colony was 34.4 at four shelf-break sites, and the maximum number was of 190 snails per colony on G. ventalina. Predation completely denudes live tissue (Fig. 1c) sloughing the sclera layer and leaving the proteinaceous axes exposed to fouling by cyanobacteria and algae. Solitary Hermodice carunculata were observed on a few heavily infested colonies.
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