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The alcyonacea (soft corals and sea fans) of Antsiranana Bay, northern Madagascar

Evans, A.J.; Steer, M.D.; Belle, E.M.S.


A.J. Evans

Mark Steer
Associate Professor in Conservation Biology

E.M.S. Belle


During the past two decades, the Alcyonacea (soft corals and sea fans) of the western Indian Ocean have been the subject of numerous studies investigating their ecology and distribution. Comparatively, Madagascar remains understudied. This article provides the first record of the distribution of Alcyonacea on the shallow fringing reefs around Antsiranana Bay, northern Madagascar. Alcyonacea accounted for between one and 16 % of the reef benthos surveyed; 11 genera belonging to four families, and several unidentified gorgonians (sea fans) were recorded. Abundant and diverse Alcyonacea assemblages were recorded on reefs that were exposed with high water clarity. However, abundant and diverse communities were also observed on sheltered reefs with low water clarity, high sediment cover and relatively low hard coral cover, implying potential competitive advantage under these conditions. Where prevailing environmental conditions were relatively moderate, the Alcyonacea assemblages were generally characterised by low diversity and an abundance of Sinularia and Sarcophyton. Because of the current lack of knowledge about the coral reefs in Antsiranana Bay, it was not possible to suggest any appropriate management actions. We propose that this account should be built upon with similar studies of other reef taxa. This series would address the paucity of published information from this part of the western Indian Ocean, and would provide the baseline information necessary to inform future management plans for the area.


Evans, A., Steer, M., & Belle, E. (2011). The alcyonacea (soft corals and sea fans) of Antsiranana Bay, northern Madagascar. Madagascar conservation and development, 6(1), 29-36

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2011
Journal Madagascar Conservation & Development
Print ISSN 1662-2510
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 1
Pages 29-36
Keywords corals, Antsiranana Bay, Madagascar, Alcyonacea, sea fans
Publisher URL