Wolf, Alexander T. and Nugues, Maggy M. (2013) Synergistic effects of algal overgrowth and corallivory on Caribbean reef-building corals. Ecology, 94 (8). pp. 1667-1674. DOI https://doi.org/10.1890/12-0680.1.

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Indirect biotic interactions play a crucial role in structuring ecological communities, but many of these interactions have not been explored. Algal competition and corallivory are two major stressors contributing to the decline of coral reefs. Here, we provide the first evidence of algal‐induced corallivory and synergistic effects between the two stressors on corals. When corals (Montastraea faveolata) were placed in contact with algae (Halimeda opuntia) together with corallivorous fireworms (Hermodice carunculata) in aquaria, corals suffered high tissue mortality. This mortality was reduced in the presence of algae only, and no mortality occurred in the presence of fireworms only or when excluding both algae and fireworms. These findings were supported by field observations showing a predominance of fireworms inside algae contacting live corals, and by an in situ experiment demonstrating higher coral mortality in contact with algae left undisturbed than with algae from which all mobile epifauna were periodically removed. Among the main contributing mechanisms, we suggest that algal contact produces decaying coral tissue that attracts the corallivore and enhances its aggregation behavior. Our study demonstrates an indirect effect pathway by which algae can impact corals, which shares similarities with the classic models of apparent competition and habitat facilitation.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Ecology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: https://doi.org/10.1890/12-0680.1
ISSN: 0012-9658
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2019 14:33
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 12:59
URI: http://cris.leibniz-zmt.de/id/eprint/2719

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