Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 879–887 | Cite as

Shallow subtidal octocorals in an Irish marine reserve

  • Cynthia D. Trowbridge
  • Colin Little
  • Lukas S. Ferrenburg
  • Hayley M. Resk
  • Katy Kachmarik
  • Caitlin Q. Plowman
  • Penny Stirling
  • Rob McAllen
Original Paper


Alcyonacean octocorals are anthozoans which are found in many coastal benthic habitats, where they can be sensitive to environmental and/or anthropogenic stress. As part of a two-decade monitoring study of Lough Hyne (Europe’s first marine reserve and Ireland’s only one), we documented benthic communities at rocky-shore sites. As a fully marine, semi-enclosed, tidal ‘lake’ connected to the Atlantic Ocean via tidal rapids, Lough Hyne has long been noted for its high species and habitat diversity. One of the noteworthy guilds we report here was the alcyonacean octocorals: (1) the soft coral Alcyonium hibernicum under shallow subtidal rocks at monitoring sites in the lough from 2002 to 2015 and (2) the first known records (2013 to present) of the red soft coral A. glomeratum inside the lough (above the rapids). Furthermore, in August/September 2014 and 2015, we rediscovered the stoloniferous octocoral Sarcodictyon catenatum, last reported in the lough in the 1930s. We documented the distribution and abundance of these species in shallow subtidal areas of the lough as a baseline in the face of rapidly degrading conditions due to extreme oxygen fluctuations from eutrophication.


Lough Hyne Marine reserve Ireland Octocorallia Alcyonium Sarcodictyon Marine protected area 



We are grateful to D. O’Donnell and P. Graham of the National Parks and Wildlife Service for permission to carry out scientific research in Lough Hyne Marine Reserve. The authors were supported in part by NSF grant INT-1130978 awarded to CDT. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We thank J. Nunn for her valuable help locating past octocoral records of the lough; B. Picton for his advice and suggestions for many years; and B. Dlouhy-Massengale for her cheerful field assistance lifting rocks.


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cynthia D. Trowbridge
    • 1
  • Colin Little
    • 2
  • Lukas S. Ferrenburg
    • 1
  • Hayley M. Resk
    • 1
  • Katy Kachmarik
    • 1
  • Caitlin Q. Plowman
    • 1
  • Penny Stirling
    • 2
  • Rob McAllen
    • 3
  1. 1.Oregon Institute of Marine BiologyCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.Beggars KnollNewtownUK
  3. 3.School of Biological Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity College Cork, Enterprise CentreCork CityRepublic of Ireland

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