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Net negative growth detected in a population of Leptogorgia sarmentosa: quantifying the biomass loss in a benthic soft bottom-gravel gorgonian

2011, MARINE BIOLOGY - DOI DOI 10.1007/s00227-011-1675-x

Autors de l'ICTA:
Sergio Rossi

Tots els autors:
Sergio Rossi, Josep-María Gili, Xènia Garrofé

Abstract
Gorgonian species may contribute to the threedimensional seascape in soft bottom-gravel areas, but the information on their biology and ecology is very scarce.
The biometry and secondary production of the Mediterranean soft bottom-gravel passive suspension feeder Leptogorgia sarmentosa (Cnidaria: Octocorallia) was studied using photographic monitoring of the primary branches from May 1998 to September 2000. The primary branches observed had a high density of polyps (2.2 ± 0.2 SD polyps mm-1) and a high organic matter content (63.2 ± 9.1 SD %). During the two-year sampling period, there was a net negative growth in 90% of the gorgonian population.
The mean loss during the 27-month period was -2.9 ± 0.9 SD cm per branch (5.7 mg C branch-1). However, considering only the initial and final diameters and maximum
height in the 27 months elapsed time, the gorgonians showed positive growth, which meant that photographic sampling of single branches was a more appropriate method for gorgonian secondary production monitoring. A water mass anomaly detected in 1999 in the north-western Mediterranean Sea may have been the cause of the net negative growth in L. sarmentosa in the studied area.Partial mortality due to different factors, such as strong currents, predation, disease, etc., could be a common strategy in sessile colonial benthic populations that would facilitate their maintenance even during very stressful circumstances.

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