Fauna associated with cold water gorgonians and sea pens

L. H. De Clippele, P. Buhl-Mortensen, L. Buhl-Mortensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper describes the fauna associated with the gorgonians Paragorgia arborea (530 colonies), Primnoa resedaeformis (370 colonies) and Paramuricea placomus (68 colonies) and the sea pens Kophobelemnon stelliferum (584 colonies), Virgularia mirabilis (114 colonies), Funiculina quadrangularis (278 colonies) and Pennatula phosphorea (36 colonies) recorded by video from 18 locations on the Norwegian continental margin. The fauna associated with gorgonians was more diverse than that of the sea pens, with 21 and 12 taxa recorded. P. arborea had the highest number of associates; in total ~38% of the colonies had associates on them. Amphipods dominated numerically contributing with 72% to the total number of taxa observed. Shrimps and the basket star Gorgonocephalus sp. were frequently observed on all gorgonian species. Rarefaction analysis indicated that the number of associated taxa was richest for P. resedaeformis. The fauna associated with the sea pens consisted mainly of shrimps and ophiuroids, for which the sea pens play a key role as a shelter and/or as a feeding platform. The ophiuroid Asteronyx loveni was only observed on F. quadrangularis, which is used as a platform to reach better feeding conditions. The squat lobster Munida sp. was often observed close to the sea pen K. stelliferum which presumably offer shelter against predators. We argue that both sea pens and gorgonians play an important role as a habitat, and that a better understanding of their ecological importance is essential to develop sound scientific advice on sustainable habitats and fisheries management of deep-water ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalContinental shelf research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Associated megafauna
  • Biogenic habitat
  • Gorgonians
  • High definition video
  • Sea pens


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