The Hawaiian Archipelago contains some of the best surveyed black coral populations on the globe; however, most previous surveys have grouped all black coral species into a single category. As a result, the unique ecological features of individual species have not been identified. This study mapped the spatial distribution of eight antipatharian species (Antipathes griggi, Antipathes grandis, Cirrhipathes cf. anguina, Stichopathes echinulata, Stichopathes? sp., Aphanipathes verticillata, Acanthopathes undulata and Myriopathes cf. ulex) found in shallow-waters (<150 m) along the Hawaiian Archipelago, and compared data on substrate type, depth and temperature among species. All black coral species were exclusively recorded on hard substrates and were generally widely distributed along the Hawaiian Islands. Additionally, antipatharian species were found at overlapping depths and temperatures, although there were significant differences in the mean depths and temperatures between most species. In cases where species did not have significant differences in mean depths, the overlapping species had different colony and polyp morphologies, which may serve to minimize competition by allowing species to grow most efficiently under particular current regimes. This study represents one of the first to map the spatial distribution of sympatric antipatharian species, and indicates that individual species exploit unique environments in terms of depth and temperature or have unique morphologies to avoid overlap.
Antipatharia (Black Corals)
USA - Hawaii