Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 7, pp 1631–1643 | Cite as

Net negative growth detected in a population of Leptogorgia sarmentosa: quantifying the biomass loss in a benthic soft bottom-gravel gorgonian

  • Sergio RossiEmail author
  • Josep-María Gili
  • Xènia Garrofé
Original Paper


Gorgonian species may contribute to the three-dimensional seascape in soft bottom-gravel areas, but the information on their biology and ecology is very scarce. The biometry and secondary production of the Mediterranean soft bottom-gravel passive suspension feeder Leptogorgia sarmentosa (Cnidaria: Octocorallia) was studied using photographic monitoring of the primary branches from May 1998 to September 2000. The primary branches observed had a high density of polyps (2.2 ± 0.2 SD polyps mm−1) and a high organic matter content (63.2 ± 9.1 SD %). During the two-year sampling period, there was a net negative growth in 90% of the gorgonian population. The mean loss during the 27-month period was −2.9 ± 0.9 SD cm per branch (5.7 mg C branch−1). However, considering only the initial and final diameters and maximum height in the 27 months elapsed time, the gorgonians showed positive growth, which meant that photographic sampling of single branches was a more appropriate method for gorgonian secondary production monitoring. A water mass anomaly detected in 1999 in the north-western Mediterranean Sea may have been the cause of the net negative growth in L. sarmentosa in the studied area. Partial mortality due to different factors, such as strong currents, predation, disease, etc., could be a common strategy in sessile colonial benthic populations that would facilitate their maintenance even during very stressful circumstances.


Secondary Production Primary Branch Secchi Disk Negative Growth Partial Mortality 
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 especially grateful to Josep Pascual for environmental data collection and preliminary processing, and to Rafael Coma, Bernat Hereu, David Diaz, Marc Marí and Mikel Zabala for field assistance. Carbon analyses were performed by the Scientific and Technical Service of the University of Barcelona, with the assistance of Isidre Casals and Pilar Fernández. Support for this work was provided by an F.P.I. fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC), which was granted to SR under D.G.I.C.Y.T. project PB94-0014-C02-01, and Ramón y Cajal contract RyC-2007-01327.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio Rossi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Josep-María Gili
    • 2
  • Xènia Garrofé
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia AmbientalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del Vallés, BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Instituto Ciencias del Mar (CSIC)BarcelonaSpain

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