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Megafaunal-habitat associations at a deep-sea coral mound off North Carolina, USA
Quattrini, A.M.; Ross, S.W.; Carlson, M.C.T.; Nizinski, M.S. (2012). Megafaunal-habitat associations at a deep-sea coral mound off North Carolina, USA. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 159(5): 1079-1094.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Quattrini, A.M.
  • Ross, S.W.
  • Carlson, M.C.T.
  • Nizinski, M.S.

    Deep-sea corals provide important habitat for many organisms; however, the extent to which fishes and other invertebrates are affiliated with corals or other physical variables is uncertain. The Cape Fear coral mound off North Carolina, USA (366–463 m depth, 33° 34.4'N, 76° 27.8'W) was surveyed using multibeam sonar and the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible. Multibeam bathymetric data (2006) were coupled with in situ video data (2002–2005) to define habitat associations of 14 dominant megafauna at two spatial scales. Results suggested greater habitat specificity of deep-reef fauna than previously documented, with fishes showing greater affinity for certain habitat characteristics than most invertebrates. High vertical profile, degree of coral coverage, and topographic complexity influenced distributions of several species, including Beryx decadactylus, Conger oceanicus, and Novodinia antillensis on the smaller scale (30 × 30 m). On the broad scale (170 × 170 m), several suspension feeders (e.g., N. antillensis, anemones), detritivores (Echinus spp.), and mesopelagic feeders (e.g., Beryx decadactylus, Eumunida picta) were most often found on the south-southwest facing slope near the top of the mound. Transient reef species, including Laemonema barbatulum and Helicolenus dactylopterus, had limited affiliations to topographic complexity and were most often on the mound slope and base. Megafauna at deep-water reefs behave much like shallow-water reef fauna, with some species strongly associated with certain fine-scale habitat attributes, whereas other species are habitat generalists. Documenting the degree of habitat specialization is important for understanding habitat functionality, predicting faunal distributions, and assessing the impacts of disturbance on deep-reef megafauna.

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