Geochemical and physical constraints for the occurrence of living cold-water corals

Cold-water coral communities cover a wide range of possible habitats in terms of latitude, ocean basins, and depth, with ongoing studies continually expanding occurrences in various regions of the global ocean. A range of factors determines the formation of cold-water coral reefs, such as physical, hydrochemical, and biological (e. g., food supply) factors. Recently, more and more modeling studies have emergedm using a variety of mathematical approaches have emerged including environmental niche factor analysis (ENFA) and predictive habitat suitability models. However, only few studies have attempted to characterize the underlying suite of hydro– biogeochemical and physical constraints of cold-water coral reefs and to differentiate between pristine reef growth vs. sites with reduced or no coral occurrences. This study concentrates on new data and a compilation of existing data sets on the physical and chemical properties in the NE Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It explores the influence of ambient bottom waters and its characteristics on living cold-water reefs and mounds formed by Lophelia pertusa. Several questions are addressed: (1) what are the physical and geochemical boundary conditions of living cold-water corals? (2) Do these geochemical parameters correlate with proposed physical prerequisites? (3) Is there a general difference in the signature of living and dead coral sites?

Flögel S., Dullo W-Chr, Pfannkuche O., Kiriakoulakis K. & Rüggeberg A., in press. Geochemical and physical constraints for the occurrence of living cold-water corals. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. Article (subscription required).

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