Microhabitat and shrimp abundance within a Norwegian cold-water coral ecosystem
Abstract. Cold-water coral (CWC) reefs are heterogeneous ecosystems comprising numerous microhabitats. A typical European CWC reef provides various biogenic microhabitats (within, on and surrounding colonies of coral species such as Lophelia pertusa, Paragorgia arborea and Primnoa resedaeformis, or formed by their remains after death). These microhabitats may be surrounded and intermixed with non-biogenic microhabitats (soft sediment, hard ground, gravel/pebbles, steep walls). To date, studies of distribution of sessile fauna across CWC reefs have been more numerous than those investigating mobile fauna distribution. In this study we quantified shrimp densities associated with key CWC microhabitat categories at the Røst Reef, Norway, by analysing image data collected by towed video sled in June 2007. We also investigated shrimp distribution patterns on the local scale (<40 cm) and how these may vary with microhabitat. Shrimp abundances at the Røst Reef were on average an order of magnitude greater in biogenic reef microhabitats than in non-biogenic microhabitats. Greatest shrimp densities were observed in association with live Paragorgia arborea microhabitat (43 shrimp m−2, SD = 35.5), live Primnoa resedaeformis microhabitat (41.6 shrimp m−2, SD = 26.1) and live Lophelia pertusa microhabitat (24.4 shrimp m−2, SD = 18.6). In non-biogenic microhabitat, shrimp densities were <2 shrimp m−2. CWC reef microhabitats appear to support greater shrimp densities than the surrounding non-biogenic microhabitats at the Røst Reef, at least at the time of survey.