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Title

Low Dynamics, High Longevity and Persistence of Sessile Structural Species Dwelling on Mediterranean Coralligenous Outcrops

AuthorsTeixidó, Nuria ; Garrabou, Joaquim ; Harmelin, J. G.
Issue Date24-Aug-2011
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 6 (8): e23744 (2011)
AbstractThere is still limited understanding of the processes underlying benthic species dynamics in marine coastal habitats, which are of disproportionate importance in terms of productivity and biodiversity. The life-history traits of long-lived benthic species in these habitats are particularly poorly documented. In this study, we assessed decadal patterns of population dynamics for ten sponge and anthozoan species that play key structural roles in coralligenous outcrops (~25 m depth) in two areas of the NW Mediterranean Sea. This study was based on examination of a unique long-term photographic series, which allowed analysis of population dynamics over extensive spatial and time spans for the very first time. Specifically, 671 individuals were censused annually over periods of 25-, 15-, and 5-years. This long-term study quantitatively revealed a common life-history pattern among the ten studied species, despite the fact they present different growth forms. Low mortality rates (3.4% yr−1 for all species combined) and infrequent recruitment events (mean value of 3.1±0.5 SE recruits yr−1) provided only a very small fraction of the new colonies required to maintain population sizes. Overall, annual mortality and recruitment rates did not differ significantly among years; however, some species displayed important mortality events and recruitment pulses, indicating variability among species. Based on the growth rates of these 10 species, we projected their longevity and, obtained a mean estimated age of 25–200 years. Finally, the low to moderate turnover rates (mean value 0.80% yr−1) observed among the coralligenous species were in agreement with their low dynamics and persistence. These results offer solid baseline data and reveal that these habitats are among the most vulnerable to the current increases of anthropogenic disturbances.
Description12 pages, 5 figures, 3 tables.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023744
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/46012
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0023744
ISSN1932-6203
E-ISSN1932-6203
Appears in Collections:(ICM) Artículos
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