MEPS 371:165-176 (2008)  -  doi:10.3354/meps07623

Cold-water coral growth in relation to the hydrography of the Celtic and Nordic European continental margin

Wolf-Christian Dullo*, Sascha Flögel, Andres Rüggeberg

IFM-GEOMAR Leibniz-Institute of Marine Sciences, Wischhofstr. 1–3, 24148 Kiel, Germany

ABSTRACT: Along the Atlantic European continental margin, living cold-water coral reefs occur over a wide bathymetric and hydrographical range. Focusing on 2 regions, the Celtic and the Norwegian shelves, we found that cold-water coral reefs are limited to different intermediate water masses. Measurements of the physical and geological properties showed that parameters such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen content, current intensities, and different substrates vary widely without specifically impacting the distribution of living cold-water coral reefs. The habitat of living reefs within the NE Atlantic comprises a temperature-salinity field, with its lower boundary equivalent to the Intermediate Salinity Maximum (ISM). The ISM on the Celtic margin is represented by Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW), but is replaced by Atlantic Water (AW) on the Norwegian margin. The upper limit corresponds to water mass boundaries of Eastern North Atlantic Water/MOW on the Celtic margin and Norwegian Coastal Water/AW on the Norwegian margin. Our study shows that cold-water corals in the North Atlantic tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. However, our data indicate that living cold-water coral reefs occur within the density envelope of sigma-theta (σΘ) = 27.35 to 27.65 kg m–3, thus highlighting the importance of physical boundary conditions for cold-water coral growth and distribution.

KEY WORDS: Cold-water corals · NE Atlantic · Oceanography · Environmental parameters · Density dependence · Habitat

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Cite this article as: Dullo W-C, Flögel S, Rüggeberg A (2008) Cold-water coral growth in relation to the hydrography of the Celtic and Nordic European continental margin. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 371:165-176

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