The Molluscan Community Associated with the Scleractinian Coral Oculina Varicosa
Abstract:The molluscan community associated with the scleractinian coral Oculina varicosa is compared among four reef sites: inner shelf (6 m), midshelf (27 m), outer shelf (42 m), and shelf edge (80 m). Enumeration of all the mollusks from 41 coral samples yielded 5,132 individuals and 230 species-level taxa, including 155 gastropods, 68 bivalves, 1 scaphopod, 5 polyplacophorans, and 1 cephalopod. Of these taxa, approximately 47% were free living (motile), 32% symbiotic (parasitic or commensal), 18% epilithic (fouling), and 3% endolithic (boring). The species assemblage at the 80-m reef was very distinct from that at 6 m. Approximately 75% of the individuals collected at 6 m were herbivores or detritivores; higher light levels and sedimentation from wave surge at this station may account for this dominance. Carnivores dominated at the 80-m station (62.1% of the individuals) but were uncommon at 6 m (4.8%). At the 80-m station, greater coral coverage permitted more coral-eating mollusks, and greater percentage of dead coral per colony enabled more epilithic species and associated symbionts to exist. The corallum of O. varicosa was denser at 80 m and the branches were generally thinner than at 6 m, possibly accounting for the fewer numbers and species of boring mollusks at the 80-m reef. Periodic coldwater upwelling and cooler average temperatures may account for the greater numbers of eurythermic tropical, temperate, and boreal species at the 80-m reef than at the 6-m reef.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 1987
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