DEEP-SEA CORALS FORMATIONS: BIOLOGIC CRITERIA FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF MARINE PROTECTED AREAS ON A CONTINENTAL MARGIN (100-300 M) IN THE COLOMBIAN CARIBBEAN
We analyzed data from previous research in the Rosario and San Bernardo Archipelagos (MACROFAUNA I-II, 1998-2011) to evaluate wheter the deep-sea azooxanthellate coral communities fulfill the criteria for a Marine Protected Areas System in Colombia. The azooxanthellate corals Anomocora fecunda, Eguchipsammia cornucopia, Madracis asperula, M. myriaster and Madrepora carolina were identified as habitat-forming corals that create particular conditions favoring increased faunal diversity in the ARSB-MPA. These deep-sea coral communities had increased species richness, abundance and uniformity. The biological parameters assessed for these coral communities were considered within te biological criteria of biodiversity, naturalness, habitat representation and heterogeneity, uniqueness and exclusion, highlighting the importance of deep sea coral communities in the context of the ARSB-MPA.
Biodiversity, Azooxanthellate corals; Biological criteria; Marine Protected Areas; Rosario and San Bernardo Archipelagos
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