Global Distributions of Habitat Suitability for Cold-Water Octocorals

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This dataset contains the global distributions of habitat suitability for seven suborders of cold-water octocorals (Octocorallia) found deeper than 50 m: Alcyoniina, Calcaxonia, Holaxonia, Scleraxonia, Sessiliflorae, Stolonifera, and Subselliflorae.

Octocorals are soft-corals that present a 8-fold symmetry. Although they are not reef-forming, they are often found in coral gardens/forests (i.e. single- or multi-species assemblages where the density of colonies on the seabed is very high). Distributions were derived from habitat suitability modelling. Suborder Sessiliflorae (illustrated here) was found to have the widest potential habitat range, but all records for all suborders implied a habitat preference for continental shelves and margins, particularly the North and West Atlantic and Western Pacific Rim. The study suggested that approximately 17% of oceans were suitable for at least one suborder.

The research leading to these results received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Census of Marine Life.

Global habitat suitability of cold-water Octocorals. Journal of Biogeography 39: 1278-1292. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02681.x; Data URL

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