Table of Contents
International Scholarly Research Notices
Volume 2014, Article ID 742387, 13 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/742387
Research Article

Natural Prey Preferences and Spatial Variability of Predation Pressure by Cyphoma gibbosum (Mollusca: Gastropoda) on Octocoral Communities off La Parguera, Puerto Rico

Department of Marine Science, University of Puerto Rico, P.O. Box 9000, Mayaguez, PR 00680, USA

Received 16 June 2014; Accepted 21 July 2014; Published 29 October 2014

Academic Editor: José Lucas Pérez-Lloréns

Copyright © 2014 Matthew Q. Lucas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This study evaluated the natural prey preferences and spatial variability of predation pressure (PP = proportion of colonies with snails and/or clear predation signs) by the gastropod Cyphoma gibbosum on octocoral communities off the La Parguera Natural Reserve, Puerto Rico. All octocoral colonies were checked for presence of C. gibbosum and/or clear predation signs in four permanent band-transects ( m), along three depth intervals (0–5, 7–12, >15 m deep) in each of six reefs along an inshore offshore gradient. Results indicate that C. gibbosum preys on at least 16 species, six of which (Briareum asbestinum, Gorgonia ventalina, Pseudoterogorgia americana, P. acerosa, Plexaura flexuosa, and Pseudoplexaura porosa) consistently showed significantly higher (K-W, ) (17–37%) PP compared to all other species. Plexaura flexuosa, P. americana, and P. porosa had significantly higher PP (11–38%) among inner and mid-shelf reefs, and G. ventalina had higher PP in shelf-edge reefs (16–20%). A combination of differential spatial distributions and octocoral species abundances seems to explain the observed patterns of predation by C. gibbosum. Prey preference and higher abundances of 3-dimensional octocorals providing increased refuge or microhabitats utilized for mating or egg-deposition could be driving the spatial distribution of C. gibbosum and the observed differential predation pressure.