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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 473:189-199 (2013)  -  DOI:

Variability in growth rates of long-lived black coral Leiopathes sp. from the Azores

M. Carreiro-Silva1,*, A. H. Andrews2, A. Braga-Henriques1, V. de Matos1, F. M. Porteiro1, R. S. Santos

1Centre of IMAR of the University of the Azores, Department of Oceanography and Fisheries/UAz & LARSyS Associated Laboratory, Rua Prof. Dr Frederico Machado, 4, PT-9901-862 Horta, Azores, Portugal
2NOAA Fisheries - Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, 99-193 Aiea Heights Drive 417 Aiea, Hawaii 96701, USA

ABSTRACT: Five colonies of black coral Leiopathes sp. were collected as bycatch from depths of 293 to 366 m from the Condor, Açor, and Voador seamounts (Azores region). The colonies had axial diameters between 4.9 and 33.1 mm and heights between 43 and 175 cm. Their ages and radial growth rates were estimated using radiocarbon dating. Results indicated that the smallest and largest colonies had similar radial growth rates of 5 to 7 µm yr−1, whereas the other 3 colonies had grown more rapidly by a factor of 3 to 5 at ~20 to 30 µm yr−1. Colony lifespan ranged between 265 ± 90 and 2320 ± 90 yr. Fine-scale sampling along a radial transect from the edge to the center of the 2320 yr old Leiopathes sp. revealed variable growth rates throughout the colony lifespan. Slower radial growth rates of ~4 to 5 µm yr−1 were recorded over the initial 1600 yr and the last 300 yr of its life span, and a period of more rapid growth (20 µm yr−1) over the intermediate 400 yr of its life. Variability in radial growth rates among colonies resulted in colony ages that were not linearly correlated to colony axis diameter or height. Our findings of great longevity and slow growth rates for Leiopathes sp. agree with other Leiopathes sp. age and growth studies, indicating that colony and population recovery from damage or removal may take centuries to millennia.

KEY WORDS: Antipatharia · Cold-water corals · Deep-sea · Growth · Longevity · Radiocarbon ·  Northeast Atlantic

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Cite this article as: Carreiro-Silva M, Andrews AH, Braga-Henriques A, de Matos V, Porteiro FM, Santos RS (2013) Variability in growth rates of long-lived black coral Leiopathes sp. from the Azores. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 473:189-199.

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