Distribution of cold-water corals in the Whittard Canyon, NE Atlantic Ocean

Morris, Kirsty J.; Tyler, Paul A.; Masson, Doug G.; Huvenne, Veerle A.I. ORCID:; Rogers, Alex D.. 2013 Distribution of cold-water corals in the Whittard Canyon, NE Atlantic Ocean. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 92. 136-144.

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The deep-sea floor occupies about 60% of the surface of the planet and is covered mainly by fine sediments. Most studies of deep-sea benthic fauna therefore have concentrated on soft sediments with little sampling of hard substrata, such as rocky outcrops in submarine canyons. Here we assess the distribution and abundance of cold-water corals within the Whittard Canyon (NE Atlantic) using video footage from the ROV Isis. Abundances per 100 m of video transect were calculated and mapped using ArcGIS. The data were separated into five substratum types, ‘Sediment’, ‘Mixed Sediment and Rock’, ‘Sediment Slope’, ‘Lophelia reef’ and ‘Lophelia and rock’. Abundance and community structure were compared. A maximum abundance of 855 coral colonies per 100 m of ROV transect were observed with 31 coral types identified. Highest taxon richness was observed along a ‘Lophelia reef’ area, although a larger richness of Octocorallia was observed away from the ‘Lophelia reef’ areas. ‘Lophelia reef’ and ‘Lophelia and rock’ areas were found to have a different coral community structure from the other substratum types. We suggest this is the result of Lophelia outcompeting other coral types because there is increased coral taxon richness in areas without Lophelia. We also hypothesise that the hydrodynamic regime within the Whittard Canyon results in differences in organic matter input including higher quality food, in comparison with other deep-water environments, leading to changes in the coral communities.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 09670645
Date made live: 04 Jul 2013 08:38 +0 (UTC)

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