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Free Content Large assemblages of cold-water corals in Chile: a summary of recent findings and potential impacts

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Basic data on distribution, composition, and size of coral communities are extremely scarce for the Southeast Pacific. With only 23 known species of azooxanthellate Scleractinia, 12 antipatharians, 13 hydrocorals, and approximately 10–15 gorgonians, Chilean coral fauna have been considered to be rather poor. Contradictory to this assumption, recent studies record extensive, diverse, and hitherto unknown coral communities in shallow water of the Chilean fjord region. The distribution of stony corals was mapped along bathymetric and horizontal transects within the Comau Fjord (42°30′S), as well as along east-west and north-south transects in large parts of the Chilean fjord region (42°S–55°S). Habitat-forming hydrocoral (Errina antarctica Gray, 1872) and gorgonian communities were documented from shallow waters. In addition, we provide a list of coral species that were accidentally sampled as bycatch of fisheries on demersal species. Seven of the 23 Chilean scleractinians have been added through these recent findings; two of them have recently been described. Five of the antipatharians represent newly added records for Chile with one new species included. These numbers indicate that the diversity and abundance of cold-water corals in Chile might be much higher than previously assumed. Based on the findings, we discuss potential threats and protection measures for these newfound communities.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2007

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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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