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Gorgonian population recovery after a mass mortality event

TitleGorgonian population recovery after a mass mortality event
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsCerrano, Arillo, Azzini, Calcinai, Castellano, Mutti, Valisano, Zega, Bavestrello
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Keywordsbenthos, biodiversité, biodiversity, climate change, dynamique des populations, gorgonaire, gorgonian, guérison, Italie, Italy, Ligurian Sea, mass mortality, Mediterranean sea, Méditerranée nord-occidentale, Méditerrannée occidentale, Mer Ligure, Mer Méditerranée, mortalité massive, mortality, north-western Mediterranean, Paramuricea clavata, population dynamic, Portofino, Punta del Faro, recovery, sponge, western Mediterranean

1. Mass mortality events are becoming more common all over the world, both in tropical and temperate seas. An extensive mortality occurred in the Mediterranean Sea in 1999, affecting many benthic species, mainly sponges and gorgonians.2. The recovery of a population of the sea fan Paramuricea clavata, for a period of 3 yr, from 1999 to 2002, was studied by both line transects and fixed frames. The average size of the coloniesdecreased, indicating a size-dependent mortality episode, but their density, as a result of successful recruitment, was not altered after 3 yr.3. P. clavata showed three recovery patterns: (i) sexual reproduction, (ii) coenenchyme regeneration and (iii) fragmentation of affected branches. Moreover, the growth rates of small colonies varied in the different years. The sex ratio of the population was also altered, with females being more affected than males; the population studied showed a significant male bias (3.3:1, n ¼ 150), varying greatly from the typical sex ratio (1:1) previously recorded in the same population before the mass mortality event.

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