Soft corals (Alcyonacea: Octocorallia) from shallow water in the Chagos Archipelago: species assemblages and their distribution

Soft corals and gorgonian corals, together with the scleractinian stony corals and calcareous algae, are the major components in the benthic shallow water reef communities of the Chagos Archipelago. The 1996 expedition yielded c. 70 octocoral species, including at least 2 genera and 5 species new to science. Alcyonacean corals were examined in various sites and habitats from reef flats to deep reef slopes at 40-50 m depth. In some sites only few soft coral species monopolise the entire living coral coverage. Distribution patterns are related to predominant environmental conditions (e.g. currents, light, sedimentation). Several characteristic species assemblages were identified and in several cases were related to predominant gradients of stress or environmental conditions (cf. Rosen, 1981). This study of soft and scleractinian coral assemblages provides a more complex, but more comprehensive view of distribution patterns on coral reefs.
Reinicke G , Van Ofwegan L .
Octocorallia (soft corals), soft corals, alcyonacea, species assemblage, benthic, community structure, abiotic environment, habitat conditions, wave exposition, lagoon