MEPS prepress abstract  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13060

Infestation biology of Phallusia nigra Savigny, 1816 (Tunicata, Phlebobranchia) on hard corals in a subtropical bay

Amir Ghazilou*, Emad Koochaknejad, Hamid Ershadifar, Hossein Negarestan, Kamalodin Kor, Gholamrasoul Baskaleh

*Email: amir.ghazilou@inio.ac.ir

ABSTRACT: Ascidians can settle and grow on corals and have become one of the main threats to hard corals in some areas of world, covering and smothering live coral tissues. We studied the biology of infestation of a solitary tunicate, Phallusia nigra, on hard corals in Chabahar Bay, a subtropical bay in the northern Gulf of Oman. Infested corals were bleached and eroded at epibiont attachment surfaces. The magnitude of infestation by the tunicate, differed between Pocillopora and Acropora coral colonies, with more tunicates inhabiting Pocillopora colonies. This preference of P. nigra for Pocillopora may be attributed to differences in morphology (e.g. narrower branch spaces in Pocillopora) and the chemical constituents of the coral genera (e.g. higher K+ and silicate contents in Pocillopora).