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Free Content Black coral-octocoral distribution patterns on Imelda Bank, a deep-water reef, Colombia, Caribbean Sea

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Distribution patterns of black corals and octocorals (Antipatharia and Octocorallia) on a deep-water reef bank off the Caribbean coast of Colombia were studied. In total, 915 colonies of five black coral and 23 octocoral species were counted and identified within 20 stations (four series, each consisting of five 2 × 2 m quadrants). The dominant functional group was black corals followed by azooxanthellate and then by zooxanthellate octocorals. Both classification and ordination analysis separated mid-depth (17–18 m) plateau from deeper slope assemblages (21–27 m). This pattern appeared to be related to the differences in light attenuation (bathymetric input) and substratum inclination (shade). Although the bank exhibits reef-building coral growth (54% of cover) that is similar to other Caribbean reefs, there is a greater proportion of aposymbiotic zooplankton-feeders and deep-water species (black corals and octocorals). This distribution appears to be related to continental run-off, with the combined effect of low transparency and water enrichment allowing this particular community to grow at relatively shallow depths on the reef. Black coral-octocoral densities were positively correlated with depth. Shaded undersides of foliaceous corals on the slope allowed settlement of aposymbiotic species resulting in higher colony densities. Black corals and azooxanthellate octocorals appeared to share the same habitat and resources.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1999

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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