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Ecological characterisation of a Mediterranean cold-water coral reef: Cabliers Coral Mound Province (Alboran Sea, western Mediterranean)

Ecological characterisation of a Mediterranean cold-water coral reef: Cabliers Coral Mound Province (Alboran Sea, western Mediterranean)
Ecological characterisation of a Mediterranean cold-water coral reef: Cabliers Coral Mound Province (Alboran Sea, western Mediterranean)

Scleractinian cold-water coral (CWC)reefs are key habitats for benthic fauna as they enhance spatial heterogeneity and biodiversity. Understanding their environmental and ecological dynamics has therefore important implications for biodiversity conservation. This is especially true for the Mediterranean Sea, where living cold-water coral reefs are rare. In this study, we present a quantitative analysis of the CWC assemblages from Cabliers Coral Mound Province, located in the Alboran Sea (westernmost Mediterranean). The province extends for 25 km, with some mounds rising up to 140 m from the surrounding seafloor and being partly topped by living CWC reefs. The observed megabenthic species were quantified through video analysis of three Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)dives (280–485 m water depth)and their distribution was related to mound geomorphic characteristics and seafloor terrain parameters, extracted from a high-resolution Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)multi-beam bathymetry. The pronounced abundance and size of scleractinian CWCs among the observed assemblages, makes Cabliers the only known coral mound province in the Mediterranean Sea with currently growing reefs. Within these reefs, several recruits and juveniles of the sebastid Helicolenus dactylopterus were observed, confirming the use of such habitats as nursery grounds by some commercially valuable fish species. The qualitative comparison between the fauna of Cabliers and Atlantic coral mounds suggest that the number of species associated with CWC mounds worldwide is even higher than previously thought. This finding has important implications for the conservation and management of CWC habitats in different geographic regions.

Alboran Sea, AUV, Benthic communities, Cabliers Coral Mound Province, Cold-water corals, Coral reefs, Nursery grounds, ROV, Western Mediterranean Sea
0079-6611
245-262
Corbera, Guillem
1febfc41-8f18-4d13-ab55-a56640587f81
Lo Iacono, Claudio
2ec2b5f4-a134-462b-b8ba-f7bd757040f5
Gràcia, Eulàlia
4cdbab2b-dd60-496b-aeef-76ae9c30e48d
Grinyó, Jordi
7e4812d4-3b7d-484d-9118-c6de78977365
Pierdomenico, Martina
cbb45f7a-e2cf-475a-899f-b2163c3002ef
Huvenne, Veerle A.I.
f22be3e2-708c-491b-b985-a438470fa053
Aguilar, Ricardo
eee95410-fe08-4cb8-8211-de8d82a32ffd
Gili, Josep Maria
a293c70a-556c-480a-927a-d9b46e21290d
Corbera, Guillem
1febfc41-8f18-4d13-ab55-a56640587f81
Lo Iacono, Claudio
2ec2b5f4-a134-462b-b8ba-f7bd757040f5
Gràcia, Eulàlia
4cdbab2b-dd60-496b-aeef-76ae9c30e48d
Grinyó, Jordi
7e4812d4-3b7d-484d-9118-c6de78977365
Pierdomenico, Martina
cbb45f7a-e2cf-475a-899f-b2163c3002ef
Huvenne, Veerle A.I.
f22be3e2-708c-491b-b985-a438470fa053
Aguilar, Ricardo
eee95410-fe08-4cb8-8211-de8d82a32ffd
Gili, Josep Maria
a293c70a-556c-480a-927a-d9b46e21290d

Corbera, Guillem, Lo Iacono, Claudio, Gràcia, Eulàlia, Grinyó, Jordi, Pierdomenico, Martina, Huvenne, Veerle A.I., Aguilar, Ricardo and Gili, Josep Maria (2019) Ecological characterisation of a Mediterranean cold-water coral reef: Cabliers Coral Mound Province (Alboran Sea, western Mediterranean). Progress in Oceanography, 175, 245-262. (doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2019.04.010).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Scleractinian cold-water coral (CWC)reefs are key habitats for benthic fauna as they enhance spatial heterogeneity and biodiversity. Understanding their environmental and ecological dynamics has therefore important implications for biodiversity conservation. This is especially true for the Mediterranean Sea, where living cold-water coral reefs are rare. In this study, we present a quantitative analysis of the CWC assemblages from Cabliers Coral Mound Province, located in the Alboran Sea (westernmost Mediterranean). The province extends for 25 km, with some mounds rising up to 140 m from the surrounding seafloor and being partly topped by living CWC reefs. The observed megabenthic species were quantified through video analysis of three Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)dives (280–485 m water depth)and their distribution was related to mound geomorphic characteristics and seafloor terrain parameters, extracted from a high-resolution Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)multi-beam bathymetry. The pronounced abundance and size of scleractinian CWCs among the observed assemblages, makes Cabliers the only known coral mound province in the Mediterranean Sea with currently growing reefs. Within these reefs, several recruits and juveniles of the sebastid Helicolenus dactylopterus were observed, confirming the use of such habitats as nursery grounds by some commercially valuable fish species. The qualitative comparison between the fauna of Cabliers and Atlantic coral mounds suggest that the number of species associated with CWC mounds worldwide is even higher than previously thought. This finding has important implications for the conservation and management of CWC habitats in different geographic regions.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 29 April 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 30 April 2019
Published date: July 2019
Keywords: Alboran Sea, AUV, Benthic communities, Cabliers Coral Mound Province, Cold-water corals, Coral reefs, Nursery grounds, ROV, Western Mediterranean Sea

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 433275
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/433275
ISSN: 0079-6611
PURE UUID: 333c36b7-e68b-466e-bc9e-691afec06f7d
ORCID for Veerle A.I. Huvenne: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7135-6360

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Date deposited: 12 Aug 2019 16:30
Last modified: 03 Dec 2019 01:49

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Contributors

Author: Guillem Corbera
Author: Claudio Lo Iacono
Author: Eulàlia Gràcia
Author: Jordi Grinyó
Author: Martina Pierdomenico
Author: Veerle A.I. Huvenne ORCID iD
Author: Ricardo Aguilar
Author: Josep Maria Gili

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