Corals hosting symbiotic hydrozoans are less susceptible to predation and disease
Berumen, Michael L.
KAUST DepartmentBiological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE) Division
Marine Science Program
Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
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AbstractIn spite of growing evidence that climate change may dramatically affect networks of interacting species, whether-and to what extent-ecological interactions can mediate species' responses to disturbances is an open question. Here we show how a largely overseen association such as that between hydrozoans and scleractinian corals could be possibly associated with a reduction in coral susceptibility to ever-increasing predator and disease outbreaks. We examined 2455 scleractinian colonies (from both Maldivian and the Saudi Arabian coral reefs) searching for non-random patterns in the occurrence of hydrozoans on corals showing signs of different health conditions (i.e. bleaching, algal overgrowth, corallivory and different coral diseases). We show that, after accounting for geographical, ecological and co-evolutionary factors, signs of disease and corallivory are significantly lower in coral colonies hosting hydrozoans than in hydrozoan-free ones. This finding has important implications for our understanding of the ecology of coral reefs, and for their conservation in the current scenario of global change, because it suggests that symbiotic hydrozoans may play an active role in protecting their scleractinian hosts from stresses induced by warming water temperatures.
CitationMontano S, Fattorini S, Parravicini V, Berumen ML, Galli P, et al. (2017) Corals hosting symbiotic hydrozoans are less susceptible to predation and disease. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284: 20172405. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.2405.
SponsorsThe views expressed are purely those of the writers and may not in any circumstance be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission. We thank the staff of KAUST Reef Ecology Lab for technical assistance during field activities in Saudi Arabia.
PublisherThe Royal Society
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