The Evolutionary history of corals at mesophotic reef ecosystems

There is a recent interest in the coral reef communities at the mesophotic zone (~40-200 m), which is a zone usually below recreational SCUBA but also avoided by deep-sea vehicle exploration. This study aimed to provide a systematic exploration of the mesophotic zone (40 to 120 m deep) in an oceanic barrier reef complex, San Andrés island (SeaFlower Biosphere reserve) and on banks along the platform shelf off Colombia (Deep-sea Corals National Natural Park). Using Closed-Circuit Rebreather and Trimix diving techniques, we wanted to determine whether the mesophotic corals and octocorals comprise unique evolutionary lineages (or not), which carry particular traits and/or symbiotic associations (Symbiodinium and Ostreobium).

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