The annual gonad development of a shallow (20 m depth) population of the Mediterranean gorgonian Eunicella singulariswas found to be closely synchronized with that of a deep (60 m depth) population, but differences were observed in the gonadal output, with the shallow population producing more and larger sexual products. Lipid content in the shallow population showed a marked seasonality, peaking during summer. In contrast, lipid content remained persistently lower in the deep population. Fatty acids as well as C/N composition were also seasonal in the shallow population and more constant in the deep one. The isotopic composition (δ15N and δ13C) of the shallow colonies was similar to values observed for passive suspension feeders with symbiotic algae, whereas the deep colonies exhibited values similar to those of aposymbiotic passive suspension feeders that primarily feed on microzooplankton and particulate organic matter. These results highlight the importance of considering the depth-related variability among populations in order to achieve a better understanding of the ecology of sessile benthic suspension feeders.
Octocorallia (Soft Corals)
Spain - Mediterranean Sea