Alternative Competitive Strategies in a Periodically Disturbed Habitat
The outcome of encounters between adjacent, sessile, colonial cnidarians in a shallow, subtidal reef habitat was examined to determine the relative importance of overgrowth and growth inhibition as alternative competitive strategies. It was determined that the gorgonian Erythropodium caribaeorum aggressively overgrew other cnidarians at a mean rate of 3.9 cm/yr. Most of the contacts involving the more abundant zoanthid Zoanthus solanderi, however, resulted in no apparent growth changes over the 16-month observation period. This absence of growth and skeletal evidence from corals in contact with Zoanthus suggest that growth inhibition is responsible for “stand-off” interactions. This non-aggressive competitive strategy appears to be a general feature of colonial organisms which colonize and persist in periodically disturbed habitats. This persistence can result in a depression of local species diversity at intermediate levels of disturbance.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1980-10-01
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