Historical record of Corallium rubrum and its changing carbon sequestration capacity (article)

Mallo, M., Ziveri, P., Reyes-García, V., & Rossi, S. (2019). Historical record of Corallium rubrum and its changing carbon sequestration capacity: A meta-analysis from the North Western Mediterranean. PloS one14(12).



There is a scarcity of long time-span and geographically wide research on the health status of Corallium rubrum, including limited research on its historical ecology and carbon sequestration capacity.


To reconstruct the temporal trends of the most reported Crubrum population parameters in the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea and to determine the changes in total carbon sequestration by this species.

Data sources

Quantitative and qualitative, academic and grey documents were collected from scientific web browsers, scientific libraries, and requests to scientists.

Study eligibility criteria

Documents with original information of basal diameter, height and/or weight per colony, with a depth limit of 60 m in the Catalan and Ligurian Seas were analyzed.

Synthesis methods

We calculated yearly average values of Crubrum biometric parameters, as well as estimated total weight, carbon flux, and carbon fixation in the structures of Crubrum’s colonies.


In both study areas, the values of the selected morphometric parameters for Crubrumdecreased until the 1990s, then increased from the 2000s, with average values surpassing the levels of the 1960s (Ligurian Sea) or reaching levels slightly lower than those of the 1980s (Catalan Sea). The difference in carbon sequestered between the oldest (1960s: Ligurian Sea; 1970s: Catalan Sea) and the lowest (1990s) biomass value of colonies is nearly double.


Quantitative data previous to the 1990s are very limited. Information on recent recovery trends in Crubrum parameters is concentrated in a few areas and biased towards colonies in marine protected areas, with scarce quantitative information from colonies in other areas.


The halt in the Crubrum decreasing trend coincided with the exhaustion of tree-like colonies and the first recovery response due to effective protection measures in some areas. Nevertheless, Crubrum climate change mitigation capacity through carbon sequestration can be drastically reduced from its potential in only a few decades.

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