Free Content Ecological Succession of Reef Cavity-Dwellers (Coelobites) in Coral Rubble

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Ecological succession of reef cavity-dwellers (coelobites or cryptic organisms) in interstices of coral rubble in the Florida Reef Tract was established by the stratigraphic analysis method. Colonization begins with encrusting foraminifers, boring bivalves and serpulid worms. Most of the bryozoans and sponges appear next along with solitary bryozoans and non-boring bivalves. This community development is climaxed by overgrowth of the rubble by a tunicate. Rubble formed by a shipwreck in the shallow reef margin (about 1.5 m of water) showed that the succession was completed within 3 years. Generally, the earlier colonizers are solitary in form and have broader tolerance to various environments, but they are taken over by colonial organisms in the later stages due to competitive superiority of the colonial forms. In general, succession of colonization on artificial substrates (ballasts) show similar patterns as on natural substrates (corals) except for the absence of boring fauna and an extraordinary development of a few pioneering foraminiferal species (Planorbulina spp., Gypsina spp. and Homotrema rubrum) on artificial substrates.

Ecological succession was clearly observed in coelobite community development. This may be due to the unique habitat of coelobites, which is relatively free from physical disturbance and predation.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1984

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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