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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 160:291-293 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/meps160291

Fish predation on the scleractinian coral Madracis mirabilis controls its depth distribution in the Florida Keys, USA

A. G. Grottoli-Everett*, G. M. Wellington

Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, 77204-5513, USA

We evaluated the role of fish predation as the mechanism controlling the local distribution of the scleractinian coral Madracis mirabilis on Conch Reef in the Florida Keys, USA. At many Caribbean sites, M. mirabilis is found at depths ranging from 1 to 63 m. However, at Conch Reef this coral is rarely found shallower than 20 m. M. mirabilis fragments transplanted from 26 to 13 m depth suffered significantly higher levels of fish predation than fragments transplanted from 26 to 20 m. These results indicate that fish predation potentially limits the vertical distribution of M. mirabilis on Caribbean reefs.

Fish predation · Coral distribution · Madracis mirabilis

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