Lobophora variegata occurs in the eulittoral zone and in deep water on coral reefs in Curaçao. An analysis of the long-term (1979–2006) changes in the vertical distribution of the macroalga in permanent quadrats indicated a significant increase in cover of the deepwater community. In 1998, Lobophora covered 1 and 5% of the quadrats at 20 and 30 m, respectively. By 2006, these values had risen to 25 and 18%, precipitating a shift in abundance of corals and macroalgae at both depths. This increase coincided with losses in coral cover, possibly linked to bleaching, disease and storm-related mortality in deep water plating Agaricia corals. In contrast, macroalgae remained relatively rare (<6% cover) on shallower (10 m) and deeper (40 m) reefs despite declines in coral cover also occurring at these depths, illustrating the depth-dependent dynamics of coral reefs. Several hypotheses are suggested to explain these changes.
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)