Original paper

Coralline algae as carbonate producers and habitat providers on the Eastern Pacific coast of Panama: preliminary assessment

Fortunato, Helena; Schäfer, Priska

Abstract

Carbonate production and benthic mollusk abundance and diversity were studied in a series of samples from the Gulfs of Panama and Chiriqui to investigate the contribution of coralline algae to carbonate production and its role in benthic community structure. Preliminary results show that maerl and rhodoliths are important components of the shelf contributing significantly to the total carbonate production, which is much higher in the Gulf of Chiriqui. Silty and sandy-mud bottoms predominate in the Gulf of Panama, while a mixture of maerl, rhodoliths and coral is commonly found in the Gulf of Chiriqui. Corallines support multilayered communities, with a low trophic diversity, few predators, abundant sessile forms, thick-shelled grazers and detritus feeders. Material is highly bio-eroded and incrustated. Soft sediment communities are dominated by thin-shelled, well preserved filter feeders and vagile predators.

Keywords

eastern pacificpanamacorallinealgaebenthiccommunitiesmollusks