Coral-dwelling fish moderate bleaching susceptibility of coral hosts

Chase, T.J., Pratchett, M.S., Frank, G.E., and Hoogenboom, M.O. (2018) Coral-dwelling fish moderate bleaching susceptibility of coral hosts. PLoS One, 13 (12). e0208545.

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Global environmental change has the potential to disrupt well established species interactions, with impacts on nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. On coral reefs, fish living within the branches of coral colonies can promote coral performance, and it has been hypothesized that the enhanced water flow and nutrients provided by fish to corals could ameliorate coral bleaching. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of small, aggregating damselfish on the health of their host corals (physiology, recovery, and survival) before, during, and after a thermal-bleaching event. When comparing coral colonies with and without fish, those with resident fish exhibited higher Symbiodinium densities and chlorophyll in both field and experimentally-induced bleaching conditions, and higher protein concentrations in field colonies. Additionally, colonies with damselfish in aquaria exhibited both higher photosynthetic efficiency (F-V/F-M) during bleaching stress and post-bleaching recovery, compared to uninhabited colonies. These results demonstrate that symbiotic damselfishes, and the services they provide, translate into measureable impacts on coral tissue, and can influence coral bleaching susceptibility/resilience and recovery. By mediating how external abiotic stressors influence coral colony health, damselfish can affect the functional responses of these interspecific interactions in a warming ocean.

Item ID: 56818
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 Chase et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CECRS), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: CECRS CE140100020, Lizard Island Research Station Postgraduate Internship
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2019 07:42
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 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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