Lophelia pertusa

Lophelia pertusa (Linnaeus, 1758)

Languages: English


Comprehensive Description

Lophelia pertusa is an azooxanthellate (i.e., has no symbiotic photosynthetic algal partner) scleractinian ("stony") coral. It is thought to be distributed throughout the world oceans, except in polar seas, and forms deep-water reefs on continental slopes, mid-oceanic ridges and fjords. It is the main reef-building species in the northeast Atlantic. It is also a major constituent of deep reefs off the eastern US coast in the western North Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The shallowest record for L. pertusa is in a Norwegian fjord (39 meters); more typically, this species is found between around 200 and 1000 meters in depth, although it may occur down to 1200 meters or more. Deep reefs provide habitat for an ecologically diverse megafauna, are likely centuries old, and little is known about basic biology, larval dispersal, and connectivity between reefs (LeGoff-Vitry et al. 2004 and references therein; Morrison et al. 2008)

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo



Cordes et al. (2008) studied the role of the habitat provided by Lophelia pertusa in the ecology of upper slope Gulf of Mexico communities. On the upper slope of the northern Gulf of Mexico, L. pertusa creates habitat for a group of casual associates as well as a small number of species that may be strictly associated with coral. Although the majority of species in close association with L. pertusa were from the background fauna, a few species have only been collected along with L. pertusa to date, for example, the polychaete  Eunice sp., the gastropod Coralliophila sp., and two species of ophiuroids. Eunice sp. is likely to be similar in habit to Eunice norvegica on the L. pertusa reefs of Norway, which has been shown to play a role in joining pieces of coral skeleton together by building a parchment-like tube that is subsequently calcified by L. pertusa. Coralliophila species are known corallivores on tropical coral reefs in the Caribbean, Red Sea, and Indo-Pacific and have been observed to do significant damage to Acropora colonies in the Caribbean. The species of Coralliophila in this study may have a similar negative impact on L. pertusa, although it is also possible that Coralliophila sp. may selectively graze on other species of solitary coral or octocorals, thereby limiting the amount of colonization and potential overgrowth of live coral. (Cordes et al. 2008 and references therein)

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo


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Cordes, E. E., McGinley M. P., Podowski E. L., Becker E. L., Lessard-Pilon S., Viada S. T., et al. (2008).  Coral communities of the deep Gulf of Mexico. Deep Sea Research Part 1. 55, 777-787.
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Davies, A. J., Wisshak M., Orr J. C., & Murray Roberts J. (2008).  Predicting suitable habitat for the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa (Scleractinia). Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers. 55(8), 1048 - 1062. Abstract
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Fosså, J. H., Mortensen P. B., & Furevik D. M. (2002).  The deep-water coral Lophelia pertusa in Norwegian waters: distribution and fishery impact. Hydrobiologia. 471(1/3), 1 - 12. Abstract
Guinotte, J. M., Orr J., Cairns S., Freiwald A., Morgan L., & George R. (2006).  Will human-induced changes in seawater chemistry alter the distribution of deep-sea scleractinian corals?. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 4(3), 141 - 146. Abstract
Jensen, A., & Frederiksen R. (1992).   The fauna associated with the bank-forming deepwater coral Lophelia pertusa (Scleractinaria) on the Faroe shelf. Sarsia. 77, 53-69. Abstract
LeGoff-Vitry, M. C., Pybus O. G., & Rogers A. D. (2004).  Genetic structure of the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa in the northeast Atlantic revealed by microsatellites and internal transcribed spacer sequences. Molecular Ecology. 13, 537-549.
Morrison, C. L., Eackles M. S., Johnson R. L., & King T. L. (2008).  Characterization of 13 microsatellite loci for the deep-sea coral, Lophelia pertusa (Linnaeus 1758), from the western North Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Molecular Ecology Resources. 8, 1037-1039.
Reed, J. K., Weaver D. C., & Pomponi S. A. (2006).  Habitat and fauna of deep-water Lophelia pertusa coral reefs off the southeastern U.S.: Blake plateau, Straits of Florida, and Gulf of Mexico. Bulletin of Marine Science. 78, 343-375. Abstract
Roberts, M. J., & Wicks L. (2011).  Lophelia.org. 2011, Lophelia.org is run by J Murray Roberts and Laura Wicks at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.. Abstract
Roberts, M. J., Wheeler A. J., Freiwald A., & Cairns S. D. (2009).  Cold-water corals : the biology and geology of deep-sea coral habitats. 334. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Rogers, A. D. (1999).  The biology of Lophelia pertusa (Linnaeus 1758) and other deep-water reef-forming corals and impacts from human activities. International Review of Hydrobiology. 84, 315-406. Abstract
Schroeder, W. W. (2002).  Observations of Lophelia pertusa and the surficial geology at a deep-water site in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Hydrobiologia. 471(1/3), 29 - 33. Abstract
Wilson, J. B. (1979).  ‘Patch’ development of the deep-water coral Lophelia Pertusa (L.) on Rockall Bank. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 59(01), 165. Abstract