Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 8, pp 1721–1732 | Cite as

Size and spatial structure in deep versus shallow populations of the Mediterranean gorgonian Eunicella singularis (Cap de Creus, northwestern Mediterranean Sea)

  • Andrea Gori
  • Sergio Rossi
  • Cristina Linares
  • Elisa Berganzo
  • Covadonga Orejas
  • Mark RT Dale
  • Josep-Maria Gili
Original Paper

Abstract

In the Western Mediterranean Sea, the gorgonian Eunicella singularis (Esper, 1794) is found at high densities on sublittoral bottoms at depths from 10 to 70 m. Shallow colonies have symbiotic zooxanthellae that deeper colonies lack. While knowledge of the ecology of the shallow populations has increased during the last decades, there is almost no information on the ecology of the deep sublittoral populations. In October and November 2004 at Cap de Creus (42°19′12″ N; 03°19′34″ E), an analysis of video transects made by a remotely operated vehicle showed that shallow populations (10–25 m depth) were dominated by small, non-reproductive colonies, while deep sublittoral populations (50–67 m depth) were dominated by medium-sized colonies. Average and maximum colony heights were greater in the deeper populations, with these deeper populations also forming larger patch sizes and more extensive regions of continuous substrate coverage. These results suggest that shallow habitats are suitable for E. singularis, as shown by the high recruitment rate, but perturbations may limit or delay the development of these populations into a mature stage. This contrasts with the deep sublittoral habitats where higher environmental stability may allow the development of mature populations dominated by larger, sexually mature colonies.

Supplementary material

227_2011_1686_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (38 kb)
Online resource 1 Density plots of shallow (A–E) and deep (F–J) Eunicella singularis populations. Gray line refers to adult colonies, and black line refers to young colonies (colonies < 5 cm in height) (n = number of adult colonies, m = number of young colonies) (PDF 37 kb)
227_2011_1686_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (6.6 mb)
Online resource 2 (JPEG 6784 kb)

References

  1. Abel DJ, Williams WT, Sammarco PW, Bunt JS (1983) A new numerical model for coral distribution. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 12:257–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alvarado-Chacón EM, Acosta A (2009) Population size-structure of the reef-coral Montastraea annularis in two contrasting reefs of a marine protected area in the southern Caribbean Sea. Bull Mar Sci 85:61–76Google Scholar
  3. Ballesteros E (2006) Mediterranean coralligenous assemblages: a synthesis of present knowledge. Oceanogr Mar Biol Ann Rev 44:123–195Google Scholar
  4. Birkeland C (1974) The effect of wave action on the population dynamics of Gorgonia ventalina (Linnaeus). Stud Trop Oceanogr 12:15–126Google Scholar
  5. Bo M, Bavestrello G, Canese S, Giusti M, Salvati E, Angiolillo M, Greco S (2009) Characteristics of a black coral meadow in the twilight zone of the central Mediterranean Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 397:53–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bongaerts P, Ridgway T, Sampayo EM, Hoegh-Guldberg O (2010) Assessing the ‘deep reef refugia’ hypothesis: focus on caribbean reefs. Coral Reefs 29:309–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bramanti L, Iannelli M, Santangelo G (2009) Mathematical modelling for conservation and management of gorgonian corals: youngs and olds, could they coexist? Ecol Model 220:2851–2856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brazeau DA, Lasker HR (1992) Reproductive success in the Caribbean octocoral Briareum asbestinum. Mar Biol 114:157–163Google Scholar
  9. Carpine C, Grasshoff M (1975) Les gorgonaires de la Méditerranée. Bull Inst Océanogr Monaco 71:1–140Google Scholar
  10. Cebrián J, Duarte CM, Pascual J (1996) Marine climate on the Costa Brava (northwestern Mediterranean) littoral. Publ Espec Inst Esp Ocenogr 22:9–21Google Scholar
  11. Cerrano C, Arillo A, Azzini F, Calcinai B, Castellano L, Muti C, Valisano L, Bavestrello G (2005) Gorgonian population recovery after a mass mortality event. Aquat Conserv 15:147–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coma R, Ribes M, Zabala M, Gili JM (1995) Reproduction and cycle of gonadal development in the Mediterranean gorgonian Paramuricea clavata. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 117:173–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coma R, Ribes M, Gili JM, Zabala M (2000) Seasonality in coastal benthic ecosystems. Tree 15:448–453Google Scholar
  14. Coma R, Linares C, Ribes M, Diaz D, Garrabou J, Ballesteros E (2006) Consequences of a mass mortality in populations of Eunicella singularis (Cnidaria: Octocorallia) in Menorca (NW Mediterranean). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 327:51–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cupido R, Cocito S, Sgorbini S, Bordone A, Santangelo G (2008) Response of a gorgonian (Paramuricea clavata) population to mortality events: recovery or loss? Aquat Conserv 18:984–992CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dale MRT (1999) Spatial pattern analysis in plant ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dale MRT, Blundon DJ (1990) Quadrat variance analysis and pattern development during primary succession. J Veg Sci 1:153–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dale MRT, Blundon DJ (1991) Quadrat covariance analysis and the scales of interspecific association during primary succession. J Veg Sci 2:103–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. DeGeest AL, Mullenbach BL, Puig P, Nittrouer CA, Drexler TM, Durrieu de Madron X, Orage DL (2008) Sediment accumulation in the western Gulf of Lions, France: the role of Cap de Creus canyon in linking shelf and slope sediment dispersal systems. Cont Shelf Res 28:2031–2047CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Drew EA (1983) Light. In: Earll E, Erwin DG (eds) Sublittoral ecology. The ecology of the shallow sublittoral benthos. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 10–57Google Scholar
  21. Dunstan PK, Johnson CR (1998) Spatio-temporal variation in coral recruitment at different scales on Heron Reef, southern Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 17:71–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Endean R, Cameron AM, Fox HE, Tilbury R, Gunthorpe L (1997) Massive corals are regularly spaced: pattern in a complex assemblage of corals. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 152:119–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ferrier-Pagés C, Tambutté E, Zamoum T, Segonds N, Merle PL, Bensoussan N, Allemand D, Garrabou J, Tambutté S (2009) Physiological response of the symbiotic gorgonian Eunicella singularis to a long- term temperature increase. J Exp Biol 212:3007–3015CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fortin MJ, Dale MRT (2005) Spatial analysis: a guide for ecologists. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 365Google Scholar
  25. Garrabou J, Harmelin JG (2002) A 20-year study on life-history traits of a harvested long- lived temperate coral in the NW Mediterranean: insights into conservation and management needs. J Anim Ecol 71:966–978CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Garrabou J, Ballesteros E, Zabala M (2002) Structure and dynamics of north-western Mediterranean rocky benthic communities along a depth gradient. Estuar Cstl Shelf Sci 55:493–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Garrabou J, Coma R, Bensoussan N, Bally M, Chevaldonné P, Cigliano M, Diaz D, Harmelin JG, Gambi MC, Kersting DK, Ledoux JB, Lejeusne C, Linares C, Marschal C, Pérez T, Ribes M, Romano JC, Serrano E, Teixido N, Torrents O, Zabala M, Zuberer F, Cerrano C (2009) Mass mortality in Northwestern Mediterranean rocky benthic communities: effects of the 2003 heat wave. Global Change Biol 15:1090–1103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gili JM, Coma R (1998) Benthic suspension feeders: their paramount role in littoral marine food webs. Tree 13:316–321Google Scholar
  29. Gilmour JP (2004) Size-structures of populations of the mushroom coral Fungia fungites: the role of disturbance. Coral Reefs 23:493–504Google Scholar
  30. Gori A, Linares C, Rossi S, Coma R, Gili JM (2007) Spatial variability in reproductive cycle of the gorgonians Paramuricea clavata and Eunicella singularis (Anthozoa, Octocorallia) in the Western Mediterranean Sea. Mar Biol 151:1571–1584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gori A, Rossi S, Berganzo E, Pretus JL, Dale MRT, Gili JM (2011) Spatial distribution patterns of the gorgonians Eunicella singularis, Paramuricea clavata and Leptogorgia sarmentosa (Cape of Creus, Northwestern Mediterranean Sea). Mar Biol 158:143–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gotelli NJ (1991) Demographic models for Leptogorgia virgulata, a shallow-water gorgonian. Ecology 72:457–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Grigg RW (1975) Age structure of a longevous coral: a relative index of habitat suitability and stability. Am Nat 109:647–657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Grigg RW (1977) Population dynamics of two gorgonian corals. Ecology 58:278–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Haase P, Pugnaire FI, Clark SC, Incoll LD (1996) Spatial patterns in a two-tiered semi-arid shrubland in southeastern Spain. J Veg Sci 7:527–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Haase P, Pugnaire FI, Clark SC, Incoll LD (1997) Spatial pattern in Anthyllis cytisoides shrubland an abandoned land land in southeastern Spain. J Veg Sci 8:627–634CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Harmelin JG, Garrabou J (2005) Suivi d’une population de Paramuricea clavata (Risso, 1826) (Cnidaria, Octocorallia, Gorgonacea) dans le parc national de Port-Cros (Méditerranée, France): comparaison des états 1992 et 2004 sur le site de la Galère. Sci Rep Port-Cros Natl Park 21:175–191Google Scholar
  38. Harmelin JG, Marinopoulos J (1994) Population structure and partial mortality of the gorgonian Paramuricea clavata (Risso) in the north-western Mediterranean (France, Port-Cros Island). Marine Life 4:5–13Google Scholar
  39. Hill MO (1973) The intensity of spatial pattern in plant communities. J Ecol 61:225–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hiscock K (1983) Water movement. In: Earll E, Erwin DG (eds) Sublittoral ecology. The ecology of the shallow sublittoral benthos. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 58–96Google Scholar
  41. Jackson JBC (1986) Modes of dispersal of clonal benthic invertebrates: conseguences for species’ distributions and genetic structure of local populations. Bull Mar Sci 39:588–606Google Scholar
  42. Jones CG, Lawton JH, Shachak M (1994) Organisms as ecosystem engineers. Oikos 69:373–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jordán-Dahlgren E (1989) Gorgonian community structure and reef zonation patterns on Yucatán coral reefs. Bull Mar Sci 45:678–696Google Scholar
  44. Kershaw KA (1958) An investigation of the structure of a grassland community. I. The pattern of Agrostis tenuis. J Ecol 46:571–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kershaw KA (1959) An investigation of the structure of a grassland community. II. The pattern of Dactylis glomerata, Lolium perenne and Trifolium repens. J Ecol 47:31–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. King TJ, Woodell SRJ (1973) The causes of regular pattern in desert perennials. J Ecol 61:761–765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kinzie RA III (1974) Plexaura homomalla: the biology and ecology of a harvestable marine resource. Stud Trop Oceanogr 12:22–38Google Scholar
  48. Lasker HR (1990) Clonal propagation and population dynamics of a gorgonian coral. Ecology 71:1578–1589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lasker HR (1991) Population growth of a gorgonian coral: equilibrium and non-equilibrium sensitivity to changes in life history variables. Oecologia 86:503–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lasker HR, Coffroth MA (1983) Octocoral distributions at Carrie Bow Cay, Belize. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 13:21–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lee PC (1993) The effect of seed dispersal limitations on the spatial distribution of a gap species, seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens). Can J Botany 71:978–984Google Scholar
  52. Linares C, Doak DF, Coma R, Díaz D, Zabala M (2007) Life history and viability of a long- lived marine invertebrate: the octocoral Paramuricea clavata. Ecology 88:918–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Linares C, Coma R, Garrabou J, Díaz D, Zabala M (2008) Size distribution, density and disturbance in two Mediterranean gorgonians: Paramuricea clavata and Eunicella singularis. J Appl Ecol 45:688–699CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mass T, Einbinder S, Brokovich E, Shashar N, Vago R, Erez J, Dubinsky Z (2007) Photoacclimation of Stylophora pistillata to light extremes: metabolism and calcification. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 334:93–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Menza C, Kendall M, Hile S (2008) The deeper we go the less we know. Int J Trop Biol 56:11–24Google Scholar
  56. Miller KJ (1998) Short-distance dispersal of black coral larvae: inference from spatial analysis of colony genotypes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 163:225–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Millot C (1990) The Gulf of Lions’ hydrodynamics. Cont Shelf Res 19:885–894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Mistri M (1995) Population structure, secondary production of the Mediterranean octocoral Lophogorgia ceratophyta (L. 1758). PSZN Marine Ecol 16:181–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mitchell ND, Dardeau MR, Schroeder WW (1993) Colony morphology, age structure, and relative growth of two gorgonian corals, Leptogorgia hebes (Verrill) and Leptogorgia virgulata (Lamarck), from the northern Gulf of Mexico. Coral Reefs 12:65–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Mortensen PB, Buhl-Mortensen L (2004) Distribution of deep-water gorgonian corals in relation to bentic habitat features in the Northeast Channel (Atlantic Canada). Mar Biol 144:1223–1238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Mortensen PB, Buhl-Mortensen L (2005) Morphology and growth of the deep-water gorgonians Primnoa resedaeformis and Paragorgia arborea. Mar Biol 147:775–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Orejas C, López-González PJ, Gili JM, Teixidó N, Gutt J, Arntz WE (2002) Distribution and reproductive ecology of the Antarctic octocoral Ainigmaptilon antarcticum in the Weddell Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 231:101–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Orejas C, Gori A, Lo Iacono C, Puig P, Gili JM, Dale MRT (2009) Cold-water corals in the Cap de Creus canyon (north-western Mediterranean): spatial distribution, density and anthropogenic impact. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 397:37–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ribes M, Coma R, Rossi S, Micheli M (2007) The cycle of gonadal development of Eunicella singularis (Cnidaria: Octocorallia): trends in sexual reproduction in Mediterranean gorgonians. Inv Biol 126:307–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Riedl R (1971) Water movement: animals. In: Kinne O (ed) Marine ecology vol 1, part 2. Wiley-Interscience, London, pp 1123–1149Google Scholar
  66. Ripley BD (1976) The second order analysis of stationary point processes. J Appl Prob 13:255–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Rosenberg MS (2008) PASSaGE: Pattern Analysis, Spatial Statistics, and Geographic Exegesis. Version 2. http://www.passagesoftware.net. Accessed 15 October 2008
  68. Rossi S, Gili JM (2005) Composition and temporal variation of the near-bottom seston in a Mediterranean coastal area. Est Cstl Shelf Sci 65:385–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rossi S, Tsounis G (2007) Temporal and spatial variation in protein, carbohydrate, and lipid levels in Corallium rubrum (Anthozoa, Octocorallia). Mar Biol 152:429–439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rossi S, Gili JM, Coma R, Linares C, Gori A, Vert N (2006) Temporal variation in protein, carbohydrate, and lipid concentrations in Paramuricea clavata (Anthozoa, Octocorallia): evidence for summer-autumn feeding constraints. Mar Biol 149:643–651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Rossi S, Tsounis G, Orejas C, Padrón T, Gili JM, Bramanti L, Teixidó N, Gutt J (2008) Survey of deep-dwelling red coral (Corallium rubrum) populations at Cap de Creus (NW Mediterranean). Mar Biol 154:533–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Schaefer JA (1993) Spatial patterns in taiga plant communities following fire. Can J Botany 71:1568–1573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Schols P, Smets E (2001) Carnoy: analysis software for LM, SEM and TEM images. Leuven: distributed by the authors. http://www.carnoy.org. Accessed 21 January 2009
  74. Sink KJ, Boshoff W, Samaai T, Timm PG, Kerwath SE (2006) Observations of the habitats and biodiversity of the submarine canyons at Sodwana Bay. S Afr J Sci 102:466–474Google Scholar
  75. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry, 3rd edn. Freeman and Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  76. Stimson J (1974) An analysis of the pattern of dispersion of the hermatypic coral Pocillopora meandrina var. nobilis Verrill. Ecology 55:445–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Szwagrzyk J, Czerwczak M (1993) Spatial patterns of trees in natural forests of East- Central Europe. J Veg Sci 4:469–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Théodor J (1967) Contribution à l’étude des gorgones (VII): écologie et comportament de la planula. Vie Milieu 18(2A):291–301Google Scholar
  79. Théodor J (1969) Contribution à l’étude des gorgones (VIII): Eunicella stricta aphyta sous- espèce nouvelle sans zooxanthelles, proche d’une espèce normalement infestée par ces algues. Vie Milieu 20(3A):635–638Google Scholar
  80. Toledo-Hernández C, Sabat AM, Zuluaga-Montero A (2007) Density, size structure and aspergillosis prevalence in Gorgonia ventalina at six localities in Puerto Rico. Mar Biol 152:527–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Tsounis G, Rossi S, Laudien J, Bramanti L, Fernández N, Gili JM, Arntz W (2006) Diet and seasonal prey capture rate in the Mediterranean red coral (Corallium rubrum L.). Mar Biol 149:313–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Ulses C, Estournel C, Bonnin J, Durrieu de Madron X, Marsaleix P (2008) Impact of storms and dense water cascading on shelf-slope exchanges in the Gulf of Lion (NW Mediterranean). J Geophys Res 113:C02010. doi:10.1029/2006JC003795 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Virgilio M, Airoldi L, Abbiati M (2006) Spatial and temporal variations of assemblages in a Mediterranean coralligenous reef and relationships with surface orientation. Coral Reefs 25:265–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Watanabe A, Metaxas A, Sameoto J, Lawton P (2009) Patterns in abundance and size of two deep-water gorgonian octocorals, in relation to depth and substrate features off Nova Scotia. Deep-Sea Res Pt II 56:2235–2248Google Scholar
  85. Weinbauer MG, Velimirov BV (1996a) Relative habitat suitability and stability of the Mediterranean gorgonian coral Eunicella cavolinii (Coelenterata: Octocorallia). Bull Mar Sci 58:786–791Google Scholar
  86. Weinbauer M, Velimirov B (1996b) Population dynamics and overgrowth of the sea fan Eunicella cavolinii (Coelenterata: Octocorallia). Estuar Cstl Shelf Sci 42:583–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Weinberg S (1976) Revision of the common Octocorallia of the Mediterranean circalittoral. I. Gorgonacea. Beaufortia 24:63–104Google Scholar
  88. Weinberg S, Weinberg F (1979) The life cycle of a gorgonian: Eunicella singularis (Esper 1794). Bijdr Dierkd 48:127–137Google Scholar
  89. Yarranton GA, Morrison RG (1973) Spatial dynamics of a primary succession: nucleation. J Ecol 62:417–428Google Scholar
  90. Yoshioka PM (1994) Size-specific life history pattern of a shallow-water gorgonian. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 184:111–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Yoshioka PM (1996) Variable recruitment and its effects on the population and community structure of shallow-water gorgonians. Bull Mar Sci 59:433–443Google Scholar
  92. Yoshioka PM, Yoshioka BB (1989) A multispecies, multiscale analysis of spatial pattern and its application to a shallow-water gorgonian community. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 54:257–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Yoshioka PM, Yoshioka BB (1991) A comparison of the survivorship and growth of shallow-water gorgonian species of Puerto Rico. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 69:253–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Gori
    • 1
  • Sergio Rossi
    • 2
  • Cristina Linares
    • 3
  • Elisa Berganzo
    • 4
  • Covadonga Orejas
    • 5
  • Mark RT Dale
    • 6
  • Josep-Maria Gili
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de Ciències del MarConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia AmbientalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del Vallès, BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Departament d’Ecologia, Facultat de BiologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Centre de Recerca Ecològica i Aplicacions ForestalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del Vallès, BarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Instituto Español de OceanografíaCentro Oceanográfico de SantanderSantanderSpain
  6. 6.University of Northern British ColumbiaPrince GeorgeCanada

Personalised recommendations