Environmental forcing of the Campeche cold-water coral province, southern Gulf of Mexico

D. Hebbeln, C. Wienberg, P. Wintersteller, A. Freiwald, M. Becker, L. Beuck, C. Dullo, G. P. Eberli, S. Glogowski, L. Matos, N. Forster, H. Reyes-Bonilla, M. Taviani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

With an extension of > 40 km2 the recently discovered Campeche cold-water coral province located at the northeastern rim of the Campeche Bank in the southern Gulf of Mexico belongs to the largest coherent cold-water coral areas discovered so far. The Campeche province consists of numerous 20-40 m-high elongated coral mounds that are developed in intermediate water depths of 500 to 600 m. The mounds are colonized by a vivid cold-water coral ecosystem that covers the upper flanks and summits. The rich coral community is dominated by the framework-building ScleractiniaEnallopsammia profundaandLophelia pertusa, while the associated benthic megafauna shows a rather scarce occurrence. The recent environmental setting is characterized by a high surface water production caused by a local upwelling center and a dynamic bottom-water regime comprising vigorous bottom currents, obvious temporal variability, and strong density contrasts, which all together provide optimal conditions for the growth of cold-water corals. This setting - potentially supported by the diel vertical migration of zooplankton in the Campeche area - controls the delivering of food particles to the corals. The Campeche cold-water coral province is, thus, an excellent example highlighting the importance of the oceanographic setting in securing the food supply for the development of large and vivid cold-water coral ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1799-1815
Number of pages17
JournalBiogeosciences
Volume11
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 7 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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    Hebbeln, D., Wienberg, C., Wintersteller, P., Freiwald, A., Becker, M., Beuck, L., Dullo, C., Eberli, G. P., Glogowski, S., Matos, L., Forster, N., Reyes-Bonilla, H., & Taviani, M. (2014). Environmental forcing of the Campeche cold-water coral province, southern Gulf of Mexico. Biogeosciences, 11(7), 1799-1815. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-11-1799-2014