Bright, Allan J.; Caitlin M. Cameron; Margaret W. Miller
Enhanced susceptibility to predation in corals of compromised condition
"The marine gastropod, Coralliophila abbreviata, is an obligate corallivore that causes substantial mortality in Caribbean Acropora spp. Considering the imperiled status of Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, a better understanding of ecological interactions resulting in tissue loss may enable more effective conservation strategies. We examined differences in susceptibility of A. cervicornis to C. abbreviata predation based on coral tissue condition. Coral tissue condition was a strong determinant of snail prey choice, with snails preferring A. cervicornis fragments that were diseased or mechanically damaged over healthy fragments. In addition, snails always chose fragments undergoing active predation by another snail, while showing no preference for a non-feeding snail when compared with an undisturbed prey fragment. These results indicate that the condition of A. cervicornis prey influenced foraging behavior of C. abbreviata, creating a potential feedback that may exacerbate damage from predation in coral populations compromised by other types of disturbance."
Coralliophila abbreviata; Acropora cervicornis; Florida Keys; coral disease; acroporid; corallivore
FY2015; CRCP Project ID: 1091; Project Title: Evaluation of ESA listed Acropora spp. Status and Recovery Actions