Understanding the conditions where long lifespans dominate and the potential consequences of these singular strategies for the dynamics of natural populations is central to ecology and evolution and has important implications for conservation biology.
This study synthesizes longevity patterns of marine sessile species, with especial attention to the long-term dynamics of the Mediterranean red coral Corallium rubrum, whose maximum lifespan is greater than 500 years.
The obtained results reveal strong positive relationships between depth, longevity and demographic stability, showing strong habitat-determined predictability of key demographic processes in marine ecosystems.
The authors highlight as their most striking finding that the maximum lifespan of a species was strongly and positively correlated with the species’ maximum depth occurrence in hexacorals, octocorals, sponges, and although weaker, also in bivalves. And conclude that these results demonstrate a strong role of habitat features at shaping the distribution of longevity patterns.
In terms of conservation, it is underlined that the longevity-depth relationship also implies a greater sensitivity of species and communities occurring at greater depths to human perturbations, amplifying recent calls to better monitor and protect these vulnerable ecosystems.
Montero-Serra I, Linares C, Doak DF, Ledoux JB, Garrabou J (2018) Strong linkages between depth, longevity and demographic stability across marine sessile species. Proc. R. Soc. B 285: 20172688