Lesser et al. 2009

scientific review | J Exp Mar Bio Ecol

Ecology of mesophotic coral reefs

Lesser MP, Slattery M, Leichter JJ


Mesophotic coral reefs, reefs at depths of 30 m to 150 m, are receiving renewed interest from coral reef scientists and managers because they are linked physically and biologically to their shallow water counterparts, have the potential to be refugia for shallow coral reef taxa such as coral and sponges, and can be a source of larvae that could contribute to the resiliency of shallow water reefs. Here we review what is currently known about how mesophotic reef communities are structured and identify critical areas where new information is needed. The review covers two primary taxa, coral and sponges, where a majority of the ecological work on mesophotic coral reefs has been done, and physical processes (e.g., the attenuation of visible irradiance and internal waves) that exert significant abiotic control on the structure of these deep fore reef communities. Understanding the ecology of mesophotic coral reefs, and the connectivity between them and their shallow water counterparts, should be a primary focus of future reef studies as the worldwide degradation of shallow coral reefs, and the ecosystem services they provide, continues.


Mesophotic “mentions”
60 x (total of 5008 words)

* Focused on 'mesophotic' depth range
* Focused on 'mesophotic coral ecosystem'

Community structure

Scleractinia (Hard Corals)
Porifera (Sponges)

Author profiles