Seafloor macrolitter is ubiquitous in world's oceans; still, huge knowledge gaps exist on its interactions with benthic biota. We report here the colonization of plastic substrates by the Mediterranean red coral Corallium rubrum (L. 1758), occurring both in controlled conditions and in the wild at ca. 85 m depth in the Western Mediterranean Sea. Juveniles settled on seafloor macro-litter, with either arborescent or encrusting morphology, ranging from 0.6 to 3.5 mm in basal diameter and 0.2–7.1 years of age, also including a fraction (20%) of potentially sexually mature individuals. In controlled conditions, larvae settled and survived on plastic substrates for >60 days. Our insights show that marine plastic debris can provide favourable substrate for C. rubrum settlement either in controlled conditions or in the wild, suggesting their possible use in restoration activities. However, we pinpoint here that this potential benefit could result in adverse effects on population dynamics.

Colonization of plastic debris by the long-lived precious red coral Corallium rubrum: New insights on the “plastic benefits” paradox

Carugati L.;Cannas R.;Follesa M. C.;Pusceddu A.;Cau A.
2021

Abstract

Seafloor macrolitter is ubiquitous in world's oceans; still, huge knowledge gaps exist on its interactions with benthic biota. We report here the colonization of plastic substrates by the Mediterranean red coral Corallium rubrum (L. 1758), occurring both in controlled conditions and in the wild at ca. 85 m depth in the Western Mediterranean Sea. Juveniles settled on seafloor macro-litter, with either arborescent or encrusting morphology, ranging from 0.6 to 3.5 mm in basal diameter and 0.2–7.1 years of age, also including a fraction (20%) of potentially sexually mature individuals. In controlled conditions, larvae settled and survived on plastic substrates for >60 days. Our insights show that marine plastic debris can provide favourable substrate for C. rubrum settlement either in controlled conditions or in the wild, suggesting their possible use in restoration activities. However, we pinpoint here that this potential benefit could result in adverse effects on population dynamics.
Corallium rubrum; Litter-fauna interactions; Marine plastic debris; Mediterranean Sea; Restoration
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11584/308054
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