Zoological Studies

Vol. 46 No. 2, 2007

Ecological Observations of Some Common Antipatharian Corals in the Marine Park of Bunaken (North Sulawesi, Indonesia)

Silvia Tazioli1, Marzia Bo1,*, Massimo Boyer2, Henki Rotinsulu3, and Giorgio Bavestrello1

1Dipartimento di Scienze del Mare, UniversitÓ Politecnica delle Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy
2Biodiversity Project, Celebes Divers, PO Box 1014, Manado, Indonesia
3Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences, Sam Ratulangi University, 95115, Manado, Indonesia

Silvia Tazioli, Marzia Bo, Massimo Boyer, Henki Rotinsulu, and Giorgio Bavestrello (2007) The ecology of 16 common antipatharian species, living on shallow reefs in Bunaken National Marine Park (North Sulawesi, Indonesia) is described for the first time. The community structure was evaluated using standard ecological parameters. The vertical distribution and habitats of different species are described. Observations on polyp morphology and feeding behavior made in situ are reported, and the most common symbiotic associations are listed. The highly diversified black coral assemblage shows strong site-dependent differences. Generally it is characterized by high values of the H' index (1.5-2.5) indicating high diversity and also high values of equitability (of approximately 1) indicating no real dominance but a functional distribution of species. In general, the abundance of black corals increases with depth. The bathymetric distribution and the preferred habitat of each studied species appear to be the result of interactions among both biological (mainly competition involving stony corals) and abiotic factors (mainly water movement). Due to the numerous symbiotic associations involving black corals (especially with crabs, shrimp, and fish), they must be considered a keystone group in the structure of tropical coral reefs.

Key words: Antipatharians, Indonesia, Ecology, Distribution, Morphology.

*Correspondence: Tel: 39-071-2204651. Fax: 39-071-2204650. E-mail:m.bo@univpm.it