Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Population decline and the effects of disturbances on the structure and recovery of octocoral communities (Coelenterata: Octocorallia) in Pacific Panama

  • Catalina G. Gomez (a1), Hector M. Guzman (a1) and Andrew Gonzalez (a2)

Community structure, species composition, and changes over time after disturbances are frequently studied using common descriptors. We used rank abundance distribution plots (RADs), Rényi entropy plots, common theoretical community models, ordination analysis of similarities (ANOSIM and Clusters), and abundance spectra analyses to study the effects of a gradual natural population decline and an anthropogenic punctuated disturbance on the structure of octocoral communities in Panama, considered a hot spot area for octocoral diversity in the Tropical Eastern Pacific. Over a 17-month period, no significant change was found in community structure after a natural yearly population decline of 25.2%. After a disturbance, however, different recovery trajectories were observed in various coral communities. Possible physical and biological explanations for the observed differences include initial local species diversity and abundance, species life history patterns, colony morphology, and the geographical location of the community. Differences in community structure between study sites were best described using a combination of community descriptors, RADs, and abundance spectra. Rényi plots were useful in identifying changes in community structure, whereas the extent of the changes was best evaluated using ANOSIM and cluster analysis.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: C.G. Gomez, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancon, Panama email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

R. Abeytia , H.M. Guzman and O. Breedy (2013) Species composition and bathymetric distribution of gorgonians (Anthozoa: Octocorallia) on the southern Mexican Pacific coast. Revista de Biología Tropical 61, 11571166.

W.H. Berger and F.L. Parker (1970) Diversity of planktonic foraminifera in deep-sea sediments. Science 168, 13451347.

O. Breedy and H.M. Guzman (2013) A new species of the genus Eugorgia (Cnidaria: Octocorallia: Gorgoniidae) from mesophotic reefs in the eastern Pacific. Bulletin of Marine Science 89, 735743.

K. Clarke (1993) Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Australian Journal of Ecology 18, 117143.

G.T. Concepcion , S.E. Kahng , M.W. Crepeau , E.C. Franklin , S.L. Coles and R.J. Toonen (2010) Resolving natural ranges and marine invasions in a globally distributed octocoral (genus Carijoa). Marine Ecology Progress Series 401, 113127.

L. D'Croz and A. O'Dea (2007) Variability in upwelling along the Pacific shelf of Panama and implications for the distribution of nutrients and chlorophyll. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 73, 325340.

S. Fattorini (2005) A simple method to fit geometric series and broken stick models in community ecology and island biogeography. Acta Oecologica 28, 199205.

P.C. Fiedler and L.D. Talley (2006) Hydrography of the eastern tropical Pacific: a review. Progress in Oceanography 69, 143180.

P.W. Glynn (1990) Coral mortality and disturbances to coral reefs in the tropical eastern Pacific. Elsevier Oceanography Series 52, 55126.

G.C. Gomez , M.H. Guzman , A. Gonzalez and B. Odalisca (2014) Survival, growth, and recruitment of octocoral species (Coelenterata: Octocorallia) in Coiba National Park, Pacific Panama. Bulletin of Marine Science 90, 623650.

J.S. Gray , A. Bjørgesæter and K.I. Ugland (2006) On plotting species abundance distributions. Journal of Animal Ecology 75, 752756.

H.M. Guzman and O. Breedy (2008b) Leptogorgia christiae (Octocorallia: Gorgoniidae) a new shallow water gorgonian from Pacific Panama. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 88, 719722.

H.M. Guzman , S. Benfield , O. Breedy and J.M. Mair (2008) Broadening reef protection across the marine conservation corridor of the eastern tropical Pacific: distribution and diversity of reefs in Las Perlas Archipelago, Panama. Environmental Conservation 35, 4654.

I. Hanski (1982) Dynamics of regional distribution: the core and satellite species hypothesis. Oikos 38, 210221.

J.K. Hill and K.C. Hamer (2004) Determining impacts of habitat modification on diversity of tropical forest fauna: the importance of spatial scale. Journal of Applied Ecology 41, 744754.

R.H. Macarthur (1957) On the relative abundance of bird species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 43, 293295.

R. Mac Nally (2007) Use of the abundance spectrum and relative abundance distributions to analyze assemblage change in massively altered landscapes. American Naturalist 170, 319330.

B.J. McGill (2003) Does mother nature really prefer rare species or are log-left-skewed SADs a sampling artifact? Ecology Letters 6, 766773.

B.J. McGill , R.S. Etienne , J.S. Gray , D. Alonso , M.J. Anderson , H.K. Benecha , M. Dornelas , B.J. Enquist , J.L. Green , F. He , A.H. Hurlbert , A.E. Magurran , P.A. Marquet , B.A. Maurer , A. Ostling , C.U. Soykan , K.I. Ugland and E.P. White (2007) Species abundance distributions: moving beyond single prediction theories to integration within an ecological framework. Ecology Letters 10, 9951015.

P.J. Moran (1990) Acanthaster planci (L.): biographical data. Coral Reefs 9, 9596.

B.R. Murray , B.L. Rice , D.A. Keith , P.J. Myerscough , J. Howell , A.G. Floyd , K. Mills and M. Westoby (1999) Species in the tail of rank-abundance curves. Ecology 80, 18061816.

F.W. Preston (1948) The commonness and rarity of species. Ecology 29, 254283.

D.R. Robertson and K.L. Cramer (2009) Shore fishes and biogeographic subdivisions of the tropical eastern Pacific. Marine Ecology Progress Series 380, 117.

E.H. Simpson (1949) Measurement of diversity. Nature 163, 688.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 8 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 96 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 29th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.