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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 653:91-103 (2020)  -  DOI:

Environmental gradients and host availability affecting the symbiosis between Pteroclava krempfi and alcyonaceans in the Saudi Arabian central Red Sea

Davide Seveso1,2,*, Davide Maggioni1,2, Roberto Arrigoni3, Enrico Montalbetti1,2, Michael L. Berumen4, Paolo Galli1,2, Simone Montano1,2

1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DISAT), University of Milano - Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza, 20126 Milano, Italy
2MaRHE Center (Marine Research and High Education Center), Magoodhoo Island, Faafu Atoll, Republic of Maldives
3Department of Biology and Evolution of Marine Organisms (BEOM), Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn Napoli, 80121 Napoli, Italy
4Red Sea Research Center, Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, 23955 Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Interspecific associations are common in coral reefs, but those involving hydrozoans and octocorals have not been widely investigated. The hydroid Pteroclava krempfi (Hydrozoa, Cladocorynidae) lives in association with different soft coral taxa (Alcyonacea), showing a widespread distribution. However, very little information is available on the ecology of these relationships. Here, we tested for differences in the taxon-specific prevalence and habitat preference of the symbiosis and determined ecological traits of the P. krempfi-host associations in central Red Sea reefs. P. krempfi was found associated with the alcyonacean genera Lobophytum, Rhytisma, Sarcophyton and Sinularia, updating its host range and geographic distribution. The symbiosis prevalence was high in the area and especially at inshore sites compared to midshore and offshore sites. Rhytisma was the most common host, while the association with Lobophytum showed the lowest taxon-specific prevalence. P. krempfi did not show a clear preference for a specific alcyonacean size, and an increase in host size automatically led to an increase in the surface occupied by hydrozoans, although they rarely colonized more than 50% of the upper surface of the host. The spatial distribution of the hydroids on the host surface appeared related to the host genus and size as well as to the coverage of the hydroids. Despite the nature of this symbiosis requiring further investigation, P. krempfi did not seem to play a role in affecting the bleaching susceptibilities of the host colonies. The study shows that the Red Sea coral reef symbioses are more widespread than previously known and therefore deserve more attention.

KEY WORDS: Hydroids · Soft coral · Association · Rhytisma · Prevalence · Cross-shelf gradient

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Cite this article as: Seveso D, Maggioni D, Arrigoni R, Montalbetti E, Berumen ML, Galli P, Montano S (2020) Environmental gradients and host availability affecting the symbiosis between Pteroclava krempfi and alcyonaceans in the Saudi Arabian central Red Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 653:91-103.

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