Species composition of Alcyonacea (Octocorallia) on coral reefs at Europa Island and associated connectivity across the Mozambique Channel
The soft coral fauna (Octocorallia: Alcyonacea) on reefs around Europa Island (Western Indian Ocean) were surveyed in 2016. The species richness was rather low for a protected, relatively pristine environment in the region. While certain ‘fugitive’ alcyonacean species were noticeably abundant, other soft corals were rare or absent. Since Europa Island is remote and isolated, connectivity was thus investigated with other alcyonacean communities in the Mozambique Channel by particle transport modelling. This revealed that, while the north-west coast of Madagascar appears well-connected with the northern Mozambique coast, the most likely source of soft coral recruits at Europa Island would be the Tulear region further south in Madagascar.
KeywordsSoft corals Larval dispersal Particle transport modelling Oceanographic eddies East Africa Madagascar Western Indian Ocean
This project formed part of the SIREME programme co-ordinated by Pascale Chabanet (Représentante de l’IRD à La Réunion, à Mayotte et aux Iles Eparses). Sample analysis and write-up were supported by a National Research Foundation Grant (MHS) and the Israel Cohen Chair in Environmental Zoology (YB). Support was provided in the field by TAAF, and by Nicolas and Anne Tisné on the research yacht Antsiva. Alex Shlagman attended to the curation of the preserved soft coral specimens in the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University, Israel. The authors thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor for useful comments that improved the manuscript.
This study was funded by the 10th European Regional Development Fund (Xe FED) in close collaboration with Conseil Départemental de Mayotte (CDM) and Terres Australes et Antarctiques Française (TAAF) under the supervision of the French Development Agency (AFD).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Sampling and field studies
All necessary permits for sampling and observational field studies have been obtained by the authors from the competent authorities and are mentioned in the acknowledgements, if applicable.
This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article.
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