Macroalgae reduce growth of juvenile corals but protect them from parrotfish damage

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Title Macroalgae reduce growth of juvenile corals but protect them from parrotfish damage
Author Venera-Ponton, D. E.; Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo; McCook, L. J.; Rangel-Campo, A.
Journal Name Marine Ecology Progress Series
Year Published 2011
Place of publication Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Abstract Inhibition of early life stages of corals by benthic algae is a critical bottleneck to the recovery and resilience of corals. Increasingly frequent and severe disturbances are causing large-scale coral mortality, usually followed by colonisation and dominance by benthic algae. The capacity of corals to re-establish in such algal-dominated habitats will depend on the effects of the algae on growth and survivorship of juvenile corals. We experimentally evaluated the competition between juvenile corals Porites astreoides and algae and the effects of algae on the exposure of juvenile corals to damage by parrotfishes (family Scaridae) in a Colombian Caribbean reef. We also explored whether those effects were consistent among climatic seasons (upwelling and non-upwelling). Benthic algae had negative and positive effects on the juvenile corals. The removal of algal turfs and fleshy macroalgae enhanced coral growth. Unexpectedly, removal of algae from around the juvenile corals increased predation upon the corals by parrotfishes. When algae were removed, at least 50% of the corals were grazed by parrotfishes, but no bites were observed on corals with intact algae. Coral growth and parrotfish damage were not affected by season. However, damage by parrotfishes neither lessened survivorship nor resulted in negative growth for any of the grazed coral colonies. The beneficial effects of algae in protecting the juvenile corals from parrotfish damage seem to be outweighed by the negative effects of the algae on coral–algal competition. Understanding such complexities in the interactions between algae and early life stages of corals can provide insight into the roles of algae in coral reef resilience.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
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Copyright Statement Copyright 2011 Inter Research. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Volume 421
Page from 109
Page to 115
ISSN 0171-8630
Date Accessioned 2011-05-31
Language en_AU
Research Centre Australian Rivers Institute
Faculty Faculty of Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology
Subject Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology)
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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