Competitive effects of macroalgae on the fecundity of the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis

Foster, Nicola L., Box, Steve J. and Mumby, Peter J. (2008) Competitive effects of macroalgae on the fecundity of the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 367 143-152. doi:10.3354/meps07594


Author Foster, Nicola L.
Box, Steve J.
Mumby, Peter J.
Title Competitive effects of macroalgae on the fecundity of the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis
Formatted title
Competitive effects of macroalgae on the fecundity of the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis
Journal name Marine Ecology Progress Series   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0171-8630
1616-1599
Publication date 2008-09-11
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/meps07594
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 367
Start page 143
End page 152
Total pages 10
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Language eng
Formatted abstract
In recent decades, a rise in coral mortality, attributed to increased frequency of mass-bleaching events, increased prevalence of disease, and more frequent and severe hurricanes, has contributed to a rapid proliferation of macroalgae across many Caribbean reefs. As a consequence, the frequency of coral–algal interactions has risen. Here, we document the effects of 2 dominant Caribbean macroalgae, Dictyota spp. and Lobophora variegata, and a mixed algal community on the fecundity of a massive coral. Montastraea annularis is a dominant Caribbean reef-building coral characterised by a low recruitment rate. To investigate the effects of macroalgae on coral fecundity, algal contact was experimentally manipulated around the perimeter of M. annularis patches. Fecundity was measured as the diameter of eggs (ES), the number of eggs per gonad (E#) and the number of gonads per polyp (G#). Algal contact was shown to significantly reduce the diameter of eggs at both the coral–algal boundary and at the centre of coral patches. The presence of Dictyota spp. or a mixed algal community was shown to have more detrimental effects on ES than the presence of L. variegata. Removal of algal contact immediately prior to gametogenesis increased the reproductive output of polyps directly adjacent to the cleared areas, with an increase in ES, E# and G#. Our results imply that algal competitors can reduce the fecundity of M. annularis through mechanical and/or allelochemical damage of polyps directly adjacent to the algae and by causing the re-allocation of energy within the coral patch from reproduction to defence and repair.
Keyword Fecundity
Competition
Coral
Macroalgae
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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Created: Tue, 23 Nov 2010, 14:33:16 EST