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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

    AEI prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Biological controls to manage Acropora-eating flatworms in coral aquaculture

    Jonathan A. Barton*, Craig Humphrey, David G. Bourne, Kate S. Hutson

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Coral aquaculture is expanding to supply the marine ornamental trade and active coral reef restoration. A common pest of Acropora corals is the Acropor0-–eating flatworm Prosthiostomum acroporae (Rawlinson, Gillis, Billings & Borneman, 2011), which can cause colonial mortality at high infestation densities on Acropora spp. We investigated the potential of 2 biological control organisms in marine aquaria for the control of P. acroporae infestations. A. millepora fragments infested with adult polyclad flatworms (5 flatworms fragment–1) or single egg clusters laid on Acropora skeleton were cohabited with either sixline wrasse Pseudocheilinus hexataenia (Bleeker, 1857) or the peppermint shrimp Lysmata vittata (Stimpson, 1860), and compared to a control (i.e. no predator) to assess their ability to consume P. acroporae life stages over 24 h. P. hexataenia consumed 100% of adult flatworms from A. millepora fragments (n = 9; 5 flatworms fragment–1), while L. vittata consumed 82.0 ± 26.76% of adult flatworms (mean ± SD; n = 20). P. hexataenia did not consume any P. acroporae egg capsules, while L. vittata consumed 63.67 ± 43.48% (n = 20) of egg capsules on the Acropora skeletons. Mean handling losses in controls were 5.83% (shrimp system) and 7.50% (fish system) of flatworms and 2.39% (fish system) and 7.50% (shrimp system) of egg capsules. Encounters between L. vittata and P. hexataenia result in predation of P. acroporae on an Acropora coral host and represent viable biological controls for reducing infestations of P. acroporae in aquaculture systems.