Fish corallivory on a pocilloporid reef and experimental coral responses to predation

Palacios, M.M., Muñoz, C.G., and Zapata, F.A. (2014) Fish corallivory on a pocilloporid reef and experimental coral responses to predation. Coral Reefs, 33 (3). pp. 625-636.

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Abstract

This study examined the effects of the Guineafowl pufferfish (Arothron meleagris), a major corallivore in the Eastern Pacific, on pocilloporid corals on a reef at Gorgona Island, Colombia. Pufferfish occurred at a density of 171.2 individuals ha−1 and fed at a rate of 1.8 bites min−1, which produced a standing bite density of 366.2 bites m−2. We estimate that approximately 15.6 % of the annual pocilloporid carbonate production is removed by the pufferfish population. Examination of the predation effect on individual pocilloporid colonies revealed that although nubbins exposed to corallivory had lower linear growth, they gained similar weight and became thicker than those protected from it. Additionally, colonies with simulated predation injuries (on up to 75 % of branch tips) healed successfully and maintained growth rates similar to those of uninjured colonies. Despite the high corallivore pressure exerted by pufferfish on this reef, we conclude that they have a low destructive impact on Pocillopora colonies as corals can maintain their carbonate production rate while effectively recovering from partial predation. Due to its influence on colony morphology, pufferfish predation may increase environmentally induced morphological variability in Pocillopora.

Item ID: 38832
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Funders: Universidad del Valle, Colombia, Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation of Colombia (Colciencias)
Date Deposited: 27 May 2015 01:26
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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