Abundance and distribution of mushroom corals (Scleractinia: Fungiidae) on a coral reef at Eilat, northern Red Sea
Mushroom corals (Scleractinia: Fungiidae) are important components of Indo-Pacific coral reefs, yet little is known about their patterns of abundance and distribution in the Red Sea. On a fringing reef at Eilat, northern Red Sea, mushroom corals were found to be common on the reef flat and shallow slope at <10 m depth, where they occurred at densities of up to 15 individuals m−2, but were rare on the mid to deep reef slope at 10–50 m depth. Eleven species were observed, a 27% increase in the recorded species diversity of this coral family at Eilat. Individuals of two species were limited to the reef flat and shallow reef slope, and members of five other species also occurred mainly on the shallow slope, but had wide depth ranges. Individuals of an additional four mushroom coral species were found mainly on the lower reef slope at low densities. In shallow water, most fungiids occurred in shaded reef habitats such as caves or holes, while at >20 m depth, they mainly occupied open, unshaded habitats. This study documents differences in habitat use between species of mushroom corals on a fringing reef, and substantial migration by the adult free-living polyps of some species out of shaded reef habitats, down the reef slope, and onto soft substratum.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 January 2000
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