MEPS 426:161-170 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09032

Chemically mediated interactions between macroalgae Dictyota spp. and multiple life-history stages of the coral Porites astreoides

Valerie J. Paul1,*, Ilsa B. Kuffner2, Linda J. Walters3, Raphael Ritson-Williams1, Kevin S. Beach4, Mikel A. Becerro1,5

1Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, 701 Seaway Drive, Fort Pierce, Florida 34949, USA
2US Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal & Marine Science Center, 600 4th Street South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, USA
3University of Central Florida, Department of Biology, 4000 Central Florida Blvd., Orlando, Florida 32816, USA
4University of Tampa, Department of Biology, 401 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, Florida 33606, USA
5Center for Advanced Studies (CEAB-CSIC), Acc Cala S Francesc 14, 17300 Blanes (Girona), Spain
*Email:

ABSTRACT: Competition between corals and macroalgae is often assumed to occur on reefs, especially those that have undergone shifts from coral to algal dominance; however, data examining these competitive interactions, especially during the early life-history stages of corals, are scarce. We conducted a series of field and outdoor seawater-table experiments to test the hypothesis that allelopathy (chemical inhibition) mediates interactions between 2 common brown macroalgae, Dictyota pulchella and D. pinnatifida, and the coral Porites astreoides at different life-history stages of the coral. D. pinnatifida significantly reduced larval survival and larval recruitment. The extracts of both D. pinnatifida and D. pulchella significantly reduced larval survival, and the extract of D. pulchella also negatively influenced larval recruitment. There was no measurable effect of the crude extracts from Dictyota spp. on the photophysiology of adult corals. Our results provide evidence that these Dictyota species chemically compete with P. astreoides by negatively affecting larval settlement and recruitment as well as the survival of larvae and new recruits. Macroalgae may perpetuate their dominance on degraded reefs by chemically inhibiting the process of coral recruitment.


KEY WORDS: Allelopathy · Coral–algal interactions · Dictyota · Chemical defense · Phase shift


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Cite this article as: Paul VJ, Kuffner IB, Walters LJ, Ritson-Williams R, Beach KS, Becerro MA (2011) Chemically mediated interactions between macroalgae Dictyota spp. and multiple life-history stages of the coral Porites astreoides. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 426:161-170. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09032

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