Biological controls to manage Acropora-eating flatworms in coral aquaculture

Barton, Jonathan A., Humphrey, Craig, Bourne, David G., and Hutson, Kate S. (2020) Biological controls to manage Acropora-eating flatworms in coral aquaculture. Aquaculture Environment Interactions, 12. pp. 61-66.

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Coral aquaculture is expanding to supply the marine ornamental trade and active coral reef restoration. A common pest of Acropora corals is the Acropora-eating flatworm Prosthiostomum acroporae, which can cause colonial mortality at high infestation densities on Acropora spp. We investigated the potential of 2 biological control organisms in marine aquaria for the control of P. acroporae infestations. A. millepora fragments infested with adult polyclad flatworms (5 flatworms fragment(-1)) or single egg clusters laid on Acropora skeleton were cohabited with either sixline wrasse Pseudocheilinus hexataenia or the peppermint shrimp Lysmata vittata and compared to a control (i.e. no predator) to assess their ability to consume P. acroporae at different life stages over 24 h. P. hexataenia consumed 100% of adult flatworms from A. millepora fragments (n = 9; 5 flatworms fragment(-1)), while L. vittata consumed 82.0 +/- 26.36% of adult flatworms (mean +/- SD; n= 20). Pseudocheilinus hexataenia did not consume any Prosthiostomum acroporae egg capsules, while L. vittata consumed 63.67 +/- 43.48% (n = 20) of egg capsules on the Acropora skeletons. Mean handling losses in controls were 5.83% (shrimp system) and 3.50% (fish system) of flatworms and 2.39% (fish system) and 3.50% (shrimp system) of egg capsules. Encounters between L. vittata and P. hexataenia result in predation of P. acroporae on an Acropora coral host and represent viable biological controls for reducing infestations of P. acroporae in aquaculture systems.

Item ID: 62557
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1869-215X
Keywords: Prosthiostomum acroporae, Acropora-eating flatworm, Lysmata vittata, Pseudocheilinus hexataenia, Biological control, Coral aquaculture
Copyright Information: © The authors 2020. Open Access under Creative Commons by Attribution Licence. Use, distribution and reproduction are unrestricted. Authors and original publication must be credited.
Funders: AIMS@JCU
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2020 07:40
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3199 Other biological sciences > 319999 Other biological sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8399 Other Animal Production and Animal Primary Products > 839999 Animal Production and Animal Primary Products not elsewhere classified @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960407 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Marine Environments @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 20%
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