Black corals (Antipatharia) of the northern Red Sea: ancient predators of the mesophotic reef

Miri Morgulis, Stephane Martinez, Ricardo Almuly, Shai Einbinder, Paul Zaslansky, Tali Mass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Black corals (Antipatharia) are among the most common and diverse taxa in mesophotic and aphotic rocky habitats. Studies of their ecology and biology are limited mostly because of the technical challenges involved in deep-water work. Here, we describe taxonomic traits, habitat, and nutrition of 2 species from the upper mesophotic zone of the northern Red Sea, Gulf of Aqaba, Israel. Our study describes a broader distribution of the branched Antipathes griggi, which to date has been primarily found in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Additionally, a new record is reported regarding the coiled Stichopathes spp. discovered at the upper mesophotic zone. The branched A. griggi were more abundant than the coiled Stichopathes spp. in all explored sites, and differences in light and water flow conditions significantly affected their distribution. Both species lacked symbiotic algae (Symbiodiniaceae). Analysis of the amino acid compound-specific stable isotope signature (AA-CSIA) revealed that both antipatharian species show a high trophic position relative to known mixotrophic and heterotrophic corals. Although both species inhabit the same area and are planktivorous, their carbon signature suggests they have different carbon sources. Our findings imply that antipatharians have a vital role in the trophic dynamics of mesophotic coral ecosystems, a unique habitat whose ecology remains largely unexplored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-47
Number of pages15
JournalMarine Ecology - Progress Series
Volume688
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. We thank the technical staff of the Morris Kahn Marine Research Station for their invaluable help. We acknowledge the guidance and technical support provided by Boris Shklyar from the Bioimaging Unit, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa. We thank Hagai Nativ for in situ imaging of antipatharian colonies for Fig. 1B,C. Additional thanks to Prof. Amatzia Genin and Dr. Jessica Bellworthy for critical review of the manuscript. The study was performed in accordance with regulations and guidelines set by the Israel Nature and National Park Protection Authority. This research was supported by grants from the German Israeli Foundation (GIF) for Scientific Research and Development, from the Israel Science Foundation (Grant I-1496-302.8) to T.M and P.Z, and from the Israeli Scholarship Education Foundation (ISEF) for PhD excellence in academic and social leadership to M.M.

Funding Information:
We thank the technical staff of the Morris Kahn Marine Research Station for their invaluable help. We acknowledge the guidance and technical support provided by Boris Shklyar from the Bioimaging Unit, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa. We thank Hagai Nativ for in situ imaging of antipatharian colonies for Fig. 1B,C. Additional thanks to Prof. Amatzia Genin and Dr. Jessica Bellworthy for critical review of the manuscript. The study was performed in accordance with regulations and guidelines set by the Israel Nature and National Park Protection Authority. This research was supported by grants from the German Israeli Foundation (GIF) for Scientific Research and Development, from the Israel Science Foundation (Grant I-1496-302.8) to T.M and P.Z, and from the Israeli Scholarship Education Foundation (ISEF) for PhD excellence in academic and social leadership to M.M.

Publisher Copyright:
© Inter-Research 2022

Keywords

  • Antipathes griggi
  • Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba
  • Isotopes
  • Mesophotic coral ecosystems
  • Stichopathes spp
  • Trophic level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology

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