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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 185:195-201 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps185195

Skeleton growth and density pattern of the temperate, zooxanthellate scleractinian Cladocora caespitosa from the Ligurian Sea (NW Mediterranean)

Andrea Peirano1,*, Carla Morri2, C. Nike Bianchi1

1Marine Environment Research Centre, ENEA Santa Teresa, PO Box 316, I-19100 La Spezia, Italy
2DipTeRis, Dipartimento per lo studio del Territorio e delle sue Risorse (Zoologia), Via Balbi 5, I-16126 Genova, Italy

ABSTRACT: X-radiographs of corallites of the zooxanthellate coral Cladocora caespitosa (L.), collected in the Ligurian Sea between 3 and 27 m depth, were examined. C. caespitosa deposits 2 bands yr-1; the high density band is deposited during winter (November to March) while the low density band is deposited in summer. Average growth rates ranged from 1.36 ± 0.58 to 4.42 ± 1.61 mm yr-1. No differences in the timing of band deposition were found between shallow and deep colonies. A comparison of the band pattern with monthly temperature-irradiance measurements from the Ligurian Sea, and with literature data on the photosynthetic efficiency of zooxanthellae, led us to hypothesise a mechanism of growth with a low dependency on autotrophy.

KEY WORDS: Coral · Cladocora caespitosa · Growth · Mediterranean Sea

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