Marine Biology

, Volume 160, Issue 12, pp 3059–3070 | Cite as

Spatial distribution patterns of the soft corals Alcyonium acaule and Alcyonium palmatum in coastal bottoms (Cap de Creus, northwestern Mediterranean Sea)

  • Stefano Ambroso
  • Andrea Gori
  • Carlos Dominguez-Carrió
  • Josep-Maria Gili
  • Elisa Berganzo
  • Núria Teixidó
  • Michael Greenacre
  • Sergio Rossi
Original Paper

Abstract

Current knowledge on the abundance and distribution patterns of different soft coral species is relatively limited when compared to other benthic suspension feeders such as gorgonians and hard coral species. To overcome this scarcity of information, the distribution patterns of the soft corals Alcyonium acaule and Alcyonium palmatum were investigated in northwestern Mediterranean benthic communities over a wide geographical (60 km of coastline) and bathymetrical (0–70 m depth) extent using a remotely operated vehicle. A. acaule was the most abundant species in the study area with highest recorded density of 18 col m−2 found at depths of 35–45 m in areas that are directly exposed to strong near-bottom currents. Conversely, A. palmatum was only found as scattered solitary colonies at greater depths in soft bottoms, with maximum density of 2.4 col m−2. Medium and large colonies of A. acaule were preferentially found on sloping and vertical rocky bottoms where they form dense patches. High-density patches of A. acaule were preferentially found on vertical rocky bottom, while isolated colonies were preferentially observed on coralligenous substrata as well as on flat soft and maërl substrates. A. acaule biomass distribution showed highest values between 40 and 45 m depth, and between 60 and 65 m depth. This suggests that deeper populations are formed by colonies that are bigger than the equivalent shallower ones. Although both species are almost genetically identical, ecologically they are very different. For this reason, conservation plans should consider the differential ecological traits shown by these two soft coral species.

Supplementary material

227_2013_2295_MOESM1_ESM.kmz (9 kb)
Supplementary material (KMZ 9 kb)
227_2013_2295_MOESM2_ESM.kmz (3 kb)
Supplementary material (KMZ 2 kb)

References

  1. Asan Z, Greenacre MJ (2011) Biplots of fuzzy coded data. Fuzzy Set Syst 183:57–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ballesteros E (2006) Mediterranean coralligenous assemblages: a synthesis of present knowledge. Oceanogr Mar Biol Annu Rev 44:123–195Google Scholar
  3. Benayahu Y, Loya Y (1981) Competition for space among coral-reef sessile organisms at Eilat, Red Sea. Bull Mar Sci 31:514–522Google Scholar
  4. Benayahu Y, Loya Y (1987) Long-term recruitment of soft-corals (Octocorals: Alcyonacea) on artificial substrata at Eilat (Red Sea). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 38:161–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benayahu Y, Shlagman A, Schleyer MH (2003) Corals of the South-west Indian Ocean: VI. The Alcyonacea (Octocorallia) of Mozambique; with a discussion on soft coral distribution along south equatorial East-African reefs. Zool Verh 48:273–283Google Scholar
  6. 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
  7. Bo M, Bertolino M, Borghini M, Castellano M, Covazzi Harriague A, Di Camillo CG, Gasparini GP, Misic C, Povero P, Pusceddu A, Schroeder K, Bavestrello G (2011) Characteristics of the mesophotic megabenthic assemblage of the Vercelli Seamount (North Tyrrhenian Sea). PLoS-One 6:e16357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 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
  9. Buhl-Mortensen L, Vanreusel A, Gooday AJ, Levin LA, Priede IG, Mortensen PB, Gheerardyn H, King NJ, Raes M (2010) Biological structures as a source of habitat heterogeneity and biodiversity on the deep ocean margins. Mar Ecol 31:21–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cocito S, Sgorbini S, Bianchi CN (1997) Zonation of a suspension feeder assemblage on a temperate rocky shoal: the influence of water current and bottom topography. In: Hawkins LE, Hutchinson S (eds) The response of marine organisms to their environments. University of Southampton, UK, pp 183–192Google Scholar
  11. Coma R, Lasker HR (1997) Small-scale heterogeneity of fertilization success in a broadcast spawning octocoral. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 214:107–120CrossRefGoogle 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. Constantini F, Rossi S, Pintus E, Cerrano C, Gili JM, Abbiati M (2011) Low connectivity and declining genetic variability along a depth gradient in Corallium rubrum populations. Coral Reefs 30:991–1003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. de Juan S, Thrush S, Demestre M (2007) Functional changes as indicators of trawling disturbance on a benthic community located in a fishing ground (NW Mediterranean Sea). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 334:117–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 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
  16. Demestre M, Pilar S, Abelló P (2000) Demersal fish assemblages and habitat characteristics on the continental shelf and upper slope of the north-western Mediterranean. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 80:981–988CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dinesen ZD (1983) Patterns in the distribution of soft corals across the central Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 1:229–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Edmunds PJ (2000) Patterns in the distribution of juvenile corals and coral reef community structure in St. John, US Virgin Islands. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 202:113–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fiorillo I, Rossi S, Gili JM, Alvà V, López-González PJ (2012) Seasonal cycle of sexual reproduction of the Mediterranean soft coral Alcyonium acaule (Anthozoa, Octocorallia). Mar Biol. doi:10.1007/s00227-012-2126-z Google Scholar
  20. Freiwald A, Beuck L, Rüggeberg A, Taviani M, Hebbeln D (2009) The white coral community in the Central Mediterranean Sea revealed by ROV surveys. Oceanogr 22:58–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Garrabou J (1999) Life-history traits of Alcyonium acaule and Parazoanthus axinellae, (Cnidaria, Anthozoa), with emphasis on growth. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 178:193–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Garrabou J, Ballesteros E, Zabala M (2002) Structure and dynamics of north-western Mediterranean rocky benthic communities along a depth gradient. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 55:493–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 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
  24. Getis A, Ord JK (1996) Local spatial statistics: an overview. In: Longley P, Batty M (eds) Spatial analysis: modelling in a GIS environment. Geo Information International, Cambridge, pp 261–277Google Scholar
  25. Gili JM, Ballesteros E (1991) Structure of cnidarian populations in Mediterranean sublittoral communities as a result of adaptation to different environmental conditions. Oecol Aquat 10:243–254Google Scholar
  26. Gili JM, Coma R (1998) Benthic suspension feeders: their paramount role in littoral marine food webs. Trends Ecol Evol 13:316–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gili JM, Ros JD (1985) Estudio cuantitativo de tres poblaciones de circalitorales de cnidarios bentónicos. Inv. Pesq. 49:323–352Google Scholar
  28. Gili JM, Ros JD, Pagès F (1987) Types of bottoms and benthic Cnidaria from the trawling grounds (littoral and bathyal) off Catalonia (NE Spain). Vie Milieu 37:85–89Google Scholar
  29. Good P (2000) Permutation tests, 2nd edn. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gori A, Rossi S, Berganzo E, Pretus JL, Dale MRT, Gili JM (2011a) 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
  31. Gori A, Rossi S, Linares C, Berganzo E, Orejas C, Dale MRT, Gili JM (2011b) Size and spatial structure in deep versus shallow populations of the Mediterranean gorgonian Eunicella singularis (Cap de Creus, Northwestern Mediterranean Sea). Mar Biol 158:1721–1732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gori A, Viladrich N, Gili JM, Kotta M, Cucio C, Magni L, Rossi S (2012) Reproductive cycle and trophic ecology in deep versus shallow populations of the Mediterranean gorgonian Eunicella singularis. Coral Reefs 31:823–837CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Greenacre MJ (2007) Correspondence analysis in practice, 2nd edn. Chapman & Hall/CRC Press, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Greenacre MJ (2013) Fuzzy coding in constrained ordinations. Ecol 94:280–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hartnoll RG (1977) Reproductive strategy in two British species of Alcyonium. In: Keegan BF, Ceidigh PO, Boaden PJS (eds) Biology of benthic organisms. Pergamon Press, Oxford, pp 321–328Google Scholar
  36. Heifetz J (2002) Coral in Alaska: distribution, abundance, and species associations. Hydrobiologia 471:19–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jones CG, Lawton JH, Shachak M (1994) Organisms as ecosystem engineers. Oikos 69:373–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kahng SE, Garcia-Sais JR, Spalding HL, Brokovich E, Wagner D, Weil E, Hinderstein L, Toonen RJ (2010) Community ecology of mesophotic coral reef ecosystems. Coral Reefs 29:255–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kahng SE, Benayahu Y, Lasker HR (2011) Sexual reproduction in octocorals. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 443:265–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kinzie RA (1973) The zonation of west Indian gorgonians. Bull Mar Sci 23:93–155Google Scholar
  41. Lasker HR, Coffroth MA (1983) Octocoral distributions at Carrie Bow Cay, Belize. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 13:21–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 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 App Ecol 45:688–699CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mallol S (2005) Anàlisi dels descartaments efectuats per la flota d’arrossegament en el Golf de Lleó. PhD Thesis. Universitat de GironaGoogle Scholar
  44. Matarrese A, Mastrototaro F, D’Onghia G, Maiorano P, Cursi A (2004) Mapping of the benthic communities in the Taranto seas using side-scan sonar and an underwater video camera. Chem Ecol 20:377–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. McFadden CS (1999) Genetic and taxonomic relationships among Northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean populations of the soft coral Alcyonium coralloides. Mar Biol 133:171–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McFadden CS, Donahue R, Hadland BK, Weston R (2001) A molecular phylogenetic analysis of reproductive trait evolution in the soft coral genus Alcyonium. Evolution 55:54–67Google Scholar
  47. Millot C (1990) The Gulf of Lions’ hydrodynamics. Cont Shelf Res 19:885–894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mortensen PB, Buhl-Mortensen L (2004) Distribution of deep-water gorgonian corals in relation to benthic habitat features in the Northeast Channel (Atlantic Canada). Mar Biol 144:1223–1238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mortensen PB, Hovland T, Fossa JH, Furevik DM (2001) Distribution, abundance and size of Lophelia pertusa coral reefs in mid-Norway in relation to seabed characteristics. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 81:581–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nenadić O, Greenacre MJ (2007) Correspondence Analysis in R, with two- and three-dimensional graphics: the ca Package. J Stat Softw 20:1–13Google Scholar
  51. Ninio R, Delean S, Osborne K, Sweatman H (2003) Estimating cover of benthic organisms from underwater video images: variability associated with multiple observers. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 265:107–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Orejas C, Gori A, Lo Iacono C, Puig P, Gili JM, Dale MRT (2009) Cold-water corals in the Cap de Creus canyon, northwestern Mediterranean: spatial distribution, density and anthropogenic impact. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 397:37–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Post AL, Beaman RJ, O’Brien PE, Eléaume M, Riddle MJ (2011) Community structure and benthic habitats across the George V Shelf, East Antarctica: trends through space and time. Deep-Sea Res Pt II 58:105–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ribes M, Coma R, Rossi S, Micheli M (2007) Cycle of gonadal development in Eunicella singularis (Cnidaria: Octocorallia): trends in sexual reproduction in gorgonians. Invertebr Biol 126:307–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Riegl B, Piller WE (1999) Coral frameworks revisited-reefs and coral carpets in the northern Red Sea. Coral Reefs 18:241–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rooney J, Donham E, Montgomery A, Spalding H, Parrish F, Boland R, Fenner D, Gove J, Vetter O (2010) Mesophotic coral ecosystems in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Coral Reefs 29:361–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rosenberg MS (2008) PASSaGE: pattern analysis, spatial statistics, and geographic exegesis. Version 2. http://www.passagesoftware.net
  58. 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
  59. 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
  60. Rossi S, Gili JM, Garrofé X (2011) Net negative growth detected in a population of Leptogorgia sarmentosa: quantifying the biomass loss in a benthic soft bottom gravel gorgonian. Mar Biol 158:1631–1643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rossi S, Bramanti L, Broglio E, Gili JM (2012) Trophic impact of long-lived species indicated by population dynamics in the short-lived hydrozoan Eudendrium racemosum. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 467:97–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rubio A, Barnier B, Jordà G, Espino M, Marsaleix P (2009) Origin and dynamics of mesoscale eddies in the Catalan Sea (NW Mediterranean): insight from a numerical model study. J Geophys Res 114. doi:10.1029/2007JC004245
  63. Sará M (1969) Research on coralligenous formation; problems and perspectives. Publ staz zool Napoli 37:124–134Google Scholar
  64. Sardá R, Rossi S, Martí X, Gili JM (2012) Marine benthic cartography of the Cap de Creus (NE Catalan Coast, Mediterranean Sea). Sci Mar 76:159–171Google Scholar
  65. Sebens KP (1983) The larval and juvenile ecology of the temperate octocoral Alcyonium siderium Verrill. I. Substratum selection by benthic larvae. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 71:73–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Slattery M, Bockus D (1997) Sedimentation in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica: a disturbance mechanism for benthic invertebrates. Polar Biol 18:172–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Slattery M, McClintock JB (1995) Population structure and feeding deterrence in three shallow-water Antarctic soft corals. Mar Biol 122:461–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Slattery M, McClintock JB, Bowser SS (1997) Deposit feeding: a novel mode of nutrition in the Antarctic colonial soft coral Gersenlia antarctica. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 149:299–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Quantum GIS Development Team (2009) GNU General Public License. http://qgis.osgeo.org
  70. R Core Team (2012) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051- 07-0, URL http://www.R-project.org
  71. Teixidó N, Garrabou J, Harmelin JG (2011) Low dynamics, high longevity and persistence of sessile structural species dwelling on Mediterranean coralligenous outcrops. PLoS ONE 6:e27344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Thomas CD, Kunin WE (1999) The spatial structure of populations. J Anim Ecol 68:647–657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Thrush SF, Dayton PK (2002) Disturbance to marine habitats by trawling and dredging: implications for marine biodiversity. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 33:449–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. True MA (1970) Étude quantitative de quatre peuplements sciaphiles sur substrat rocheux dans la région marseillaise. Bull Inst Océanogr Monaco 69:1–48Google Scholar
  75. 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
  76. 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
  77. Vertino A, Savini A, Rosso A, DiGeronimo I, Mastrototaro F, Sanfilippo R, Gay G, Etiope G (2010) Benthic habitat characterization and distribution from two representative sites of the deep-water SML Coral Mound Province (Mediterranean). Deep-Sea Res Pt II 57:380–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. 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
  79. 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 56:2235–2248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Watling L, Auster PJ (2005) Distribution of deep-water Alcyonacea of the Northeast Coast of the United States. In: Freiwald A, Roberts JM (eds) Cold-Water Corals and Ecosystems. Springer, Berlin, pp 279–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Weinberg S (1977) Revision of the common Octocorallia of the Mediterranean circalittoral. II. Alcyonacea. Beaufortia 25:131–166Google Scholar
  82. Weinberg S (1978) The minimal area problem in invertebrate communities of Mediterranean rocky substrata. Mar Biol 49:33–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wildish D, Kristmanson D (1997) Benthic suspension feeders and flow. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Yoshioka PM (1994) Size-specific life history pattern of a shallow water gorgonian. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 184:111–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Yoshioka PM, Yoshioka BB (1989) A multispecies, multiscale analysis of spatial pattern and its application to a shallow-water gorgonian communities. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 54:257–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefano Ambroso
    • 1
  • Andrea Gori
    • 1
  • Carlos Dominguez-Carrió
    • 1
  • Josep-Maria Gili
    • 1
  • Elisa Berganzo
    • 2
  • Núria Teixidó
    • 1
  • Michael Greenacre
    • 3
  • Sergio Rossi
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut de Ciències del MarConsejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (ICM-CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Centre de Recerca Ecològica i Aplicacions ForestalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Economics and BusinessUniversitat Pompeu Fabra, and Barcelona Graduate School of EconomicsBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia AmbientalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations