Changes in gorgonian morphology along a depth gradient at Isla Alcatraz, San Sebastian National Park, Venezuela

Rodriguez-Lanetty, Mauricio, Marquez, Luis Miguel, and Losada, Freddy (2003) Changes in gorgonian morphology along a depth gradient at Isla Alcatraz, San Sebastian National Park, Venezuela. Bulletin of Marine Science, 72 (3). pp. 1019-1023.

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Abstract

[Extract] Gorgonian growth form represents a trade-off between selective forces related at least to feeding (Leversee, 1976; Sebens, 1984; Sponaugle and LaBarbera, 1991; Patterson, 1991a; b), gas exchange (Patterson and Sebens, 1989), resistance to dislodgment caused by wave action and current (Wainwright and Dillon, 1969; Rees, 1972; Mosquera, 1991; Weinbauer and Velimirov, 1995; Lin and Dai, 1996) and light capture (West et al. 1993). Several authors, however, have suggested that hydrodynamic regime within coral reefs is one of the most important factor determining gorgonian morphology (Wainwright and Dillon, 1969; Grigg, 1972; Velimirov, 1976; Muzik and Wainwright, 1977; Jordan and Nugent, 1978; Weinbauer and Velimirov, 1995). Under wave-generated bidirectional current or high unidirectional current, gorgonians and other soft corals tend to grow fanform and typically oriented perpendicularly to the current (Theodor and Denyzot, 1965; Wainwright and Dillon, 1969; Koehl, 1982). This growth form seems to minimize the axial rod torsion and colony detachment (Theodor and Denyzot, 1965; Lin and Dai, 1996), and on the other hand, to maximize the food capture as well (Leversee, 1976, Patterson, 1991a). Alternatively, gorgonians grow arborescently tree-form under low-impact hydrodynamic regimes (Grigg, 1972). Thus, according to Sebens (1987), the change in gorgonian morphology along the depth gradient mirrors the change in hydrodynamic regime. Along depth gradients, in which the hydrodynamic stress decreases from wave-exposed shores toward deeper areas, shallow colonies should tend to be fan-form whereas deep ones should be tree-form. Here we set out to test a widely cited concept that gorgonian morphology seems to be a direct reflection of hydrodynamic regime on a coral reef. Our observational data suggests that the effect of hydrodynamic regime on gorgonian morphology is species-specific.

Item ID: 13734
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: coral assemblages; Gorgonian; hydrodynamics
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ISSN: 1553-6955
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2010 03:57
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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