Specimens of the brooding reef coral Favia fragum were found on man-made flotsam stranded on the North Sea shore of the Netherlands. Based on the associated epifauna originating from the southeast USA, we estimate that the corals must have crossed the Atlantic Ocean, transported by the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift. The size of the corals suggests that they might have had enough time to cross the Atlantic alive and that they already reached the age of possible self-fertilization before they entered waters that were too cold to survive. The temperature requirements and the presently known geographic range of F. fragum are compared with Atlantic summer and winter isotherms and oceanic currents in order to project a hypothetical northernmost range boundary. With increasing pollution, man-made flotsam may become a progressively more common substrate for reef corals that depend on rafting for long-distance dis persal. Eventually, with warming seawater, floating debris may cause tropical marine species to expand their distribution ranges towards higher latitudes.KEY WORDS: Distribution range · Epifauna · Life history · Long-distance dispersal · Ocean currents · Temperature tolerance 445: 209-218, 2012 (Uneputty & Evans 1997, Willoughby et al. 1997, Derraik 2002, Thiel et al. 2003, Taffs & Cullen 2005, Gregory 2009, Ryan et al. 2009). Resale or republication not permitted without written consent of the publisherMar Ecol Prog SerThe growth in man-made flotsam also causes an increase of buoyant substrate for benthic organisms, which has become most evident in areas where it used to be rare (Barnes 2002, Aliani & Molcard 2003. Fouling organisms are able to reach remote coastlines as long as their growing weight does not negatively affect the buoyancy of their substrate. Eventually, long-lasting flotsam can become responsible for the introduction of exotic species (Winston 1982, Winston et al. 1997, Barnes & Fraser 2003, Barnes & Milner 2005. When these exotic species appear to colonize new areas and become harmful to allochtonous species, it is important to know their origin and natural environment for their control.Recently, several specimens of the brooding amphiAtlantic reef coral Favia fragum (Esper, 1793), together with other fouling animals, were discovered on a gas cylinder that was beached on Texel, the Netherlands, (Fig. 1). Although the corals were dead, they were large enough to tell that they must have survived for a long time. So far, it has only been hypothesised that the wide distribution range of brooding organisms, and F. fragum in particular, may be caused by long-distance dispersal through rafting (Highsmith 1985, Goodbody-Gringley et al. 2010. Based on the species composition of the epifauna of the cylinder, the course of oceanic currents, the size and growth form of the corals, and information on the biogeography and life history of F. fragum, we reconstruct a scenario in order to explain how these reef corals were able to reach the temperate coastline of the Netherlands. MAT...
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