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.
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