Sessile marine species such as Anthozoans act as ecosystem engineers due to their three-dimensional structure. Gorgonians, in particular, can form dense underwater forests that give shelter to other species increasing local biodiversity. In the last decades, several Mediterranean gorgonian populations have been affected by natural and anthropogenic impacts which drastically reduced their size. However, some species showed unexpected resilience, mainly due to the supply of new individuals. To understand the mechanisms underlying recovery processes, studies on the first life history stages (i.e. larval dispersal, settlement and recruitment) are needed. In tropical coral reefs, crustose coralline algae (CCA) are known to influence coral larvae habitat selection and settlement. This capacity however is not ubiquitous among CCA species and larvae of different coral species may have different preferences. The present work focuses on three Mediterranean gorgonians (Eunicella singularis, Paramuricea clavata and Corallium rubrum) with the objective of quantifying settlement and recruitment in presence of two common CCA species (Litophyllum stictaeforme and Litophyllum incrustans). Results showed that the presence of CCA activates earlier settlement in E. singularis and increases the density of recruits, with different trends for the three species. Our results suggest that CCA should be taken into account in the implementation of conservation strategies. Moreover, a deeper comprehension of settlement mechanisms could help improving restoration techniques based on sexual reproduction.
|Numero di pagine||8|
|Rivista||Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2020|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science