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Botanica Marina

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Dynamics and patterns of algal colonization on mechanically damaged and dead colonies of the coral Porites lutea

Eduard A. Titlyanov1 / Tamara V. Titlyanova2 / David J. Chapman3

1Institute of Marine Biology, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Palchevskogo 17, Vladivostok, 690041, Russian Federation and Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the Ryukyus, Sesoko Station, Okinawa 905-0227, Japan

2Institute of Marine Biology, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Palchevskogo 17, Vladivostok, 690041, Russian Federation

3Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9610, USA

Corresponding author

Citation Information: Botanica Marina. Volume 51, Issue 4, Pages 285–296, ISSN (Online) 1437-4323, ISSN (Print) 0006-8055, DOI: 10.1515/BOT.2008.042, August 2008

Publication History

Received:
2007-07-17
Accepted:
2008-06-19

Abstract

We studied (1) the dynamics of colonization by epilithic algae on mechanically damaged colonies of the coral Porites lutea, (2) the dynamics of algal colonization on dead coral fragments (coral pebbles), (3) and regeneration rates of the damaged corals under a broad range of natural light conditions on the fringing reef of Sesoko Island (Okinawa, Japan). After 1 month (of the experiment), 26 algal species occupied damaged coral areas with a projected areal cover of 1–7%. Colonizers were mainly diatoms, Cyanobacteria, filamentous green, brown and red algae. During this period, the algal settlers were not an impediment to coral polyp recovery. The recovery rate of damaged coral tissue was highest after the first month, amounting to approximately 0.15 mm day-1 under bright light (70–90% of incident surface photosynthetically active radiation, PAR0), 0.14 mm day-1 under moderate light (20–30% PAR0) and 0.07 mm day-1 under low light (2–5% PAR0). After 3 months, 58 algal species had settled onto lesions and 43 species onto coral pebbles. Projected areal cover of the algae was 30–90%. After the second month of the experiment, the recovery rates of corals declined sharply to 0.02–0.04 mm day-1. Under high and moderate light intensities, the measured parameters were similar (with the exception of the number of algal settlers). Under low light, the number, the density of algal settlers and the regeneration rate of polyps on damaged corals were significantly reduced. The algal turf community was formed under light intensities from 20% to 90% PAR0, but was not formed under low light.

Keywords: algae; competition; coral regeneration; dynamics of colonization; Porites lutea

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