Diversity, Distribution and Nature of Faunal Associations with Deep-Sea Pennatulacean Corals in the Northwest Atlantic

Baillon, Sandrine and Hamel, Jean-François and Mercier, Annie (2014) Diversity, Distribution and Nature of Faunal Associations with Deep-Sea Pennatulacean Corals in the Northwest Atlantic. PLoS ONE, 9 (11). ISSN 1932-6203

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Anthoptilum grandiflorum and Halipteris finmarchica are two deep-sea corals (Octocorallia: Pennatulacea) common on soft bottoms in the North Atlantic where they are believed to act as biogenic habitat. The former also has a worldwide distribution. To assist conservation efforts, this study examines spatial and temporal patterns in the abundance, diversity, and nature of their faunal associates. A total of 14 species were found on A. grandiflorum and 6 species on H. finmarchica during a multi-year and multi-site sampling campaign in eastern Canada. Among those, 7 and 5 species, respectively, were attached to the sea pens and categorized as close associates or symbionts. Rarefaction analyses suggest that the most common associates of both sea pens have been sampled. Biodiversity associated with each sea pen is analyzed according to season, depth and region using either close associates or the broader collection of species. Associated biodiversity generally increases from northern to southern locations and does not vary with depth (∼100–1400 m). Seasonal patterns in A. grandiflorum show higher biodiversity during spring/summer due to the transient presence of early life stages of fishes and shrimps whereas it peaks in fall for H. finmarchica. Two distinct endoparasitic species of highly modified copepods (families Lamippidae and Corallovexiidae) commonly occur in the polyps of A. grandiflorum and H. finmarchica, and a commensal sea anemone frequently associates with H. finmarchica. Stable isotope analyses (δ13C and δ15N) reveal potential trophic interactions between the parasites and their hosts. Overall, the diversity of obligate/permanent associates of sea pens is moderate; however the presence of mobile/transient associates highlights an ecological role that has yet to be fully elucidated and supports their key contribution to the enhancement of biodiversity in the Northwest Atlantic.

Item Type: Article
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11771
Item ID: 11771
Additional Information: Memorial University Open Access Author's Fund
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Biology
Date: 4 November 2014
Date Type: Publication
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