Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 3, pp 527–535 | Cite as

Density, size structure and aspergillosis prevalence in Gorgonia ventalina at six localities in Puerto Rico

  • Carlos Toledo-HernándezEmail author
  • Alberto M. Sabat
  • Anabella Zuluaga-Montero
Research Article


Gorgonia ventalina’s density, size structure and lesion prevalence was measured at six sites in Puerto Rico that exhibited variation in horizontal water transparency, sedimentation rates, suspended particle matter, scleractinian and macroalgal cover. G. ventalina density varied significantly among sites (between 0.84 and 0.007 colonies/m2), and was positively correlated with water transparency. Size structure did not vary much among sites, and reflects high mortality among the smaller size classes and high survivorship in large colonies. Prevalence of active fungi-induced lesions (type I) did not vary significantly among sites and was density-independent. However, prevalence of old lesions of unknown origin (type II) did vary among reefs and was negatively correlated with water transparency. Prevalence of types I or II lesions was independent of colony size. Our results suggest that (1) turbidity and sedimentation are important abiotic factors controlling the abundance of sea fans, (2) variation in settlement success and early survivorship of recruits has more impact on the sea fan populations than variation in the survivorship of large colonies and (3) prevalence of aspergillosis (type I) at the studied sites is similar to that reported for other Caribbean reefs and supports the epizootic nature of the disease and (4) lesions with exposed skeleton are more likely to be colonized by fouling organisms at impacted reefs. The combined effects of anthropogenic impacts and aspergillosis may cause local extinctions of sea fans, as is becoming evident in many reefs in Puerto Rico.


Suspend Particle Matter Aspergillosis Colony Size Coral Cover Water Transparency 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was financially supported by NSF AGEP program, The Sea Grant Program of the University of Puerto Rico, the NOAA CRES program, and the PADI Foundation. We are grateful to Paul Yoshioka, Paul Bayman, Humberto L. Perrotto Baldivieso and Eduardo Rosa-Molinar for their comments. We also thank Andrea Franke, Nestor Perez, Edwin Hernández-Delgado, María del Mar López-Rivera and Lorna Nieves and Luis Villanueva for field assistance. The Fisheries Laboratory of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico provided logistical support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Toledo-Hernández
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alberto M. Sabat
    • 1
  • Anabella Zuluaga-Montero
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Puerto RicoSan JuanPuerto Rico

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