Heterotrophy in the Mediterranean symbiotic coral Cladocora caespitosa: Comparison with two other scleractinian species

P. Tremblay, A. Peirano, C. Ferrier-Pagés

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This experimental study assessed the grazing rates of the Mediterranean symbiotic coral Cladocora caespitosa on the 4 main food sources available in its natural environment: detrital particulate organic matter (DPOM) and pico-, nano-, and microzooplankton. These rates were compared to the rates of 2 other scleractinian symbiotic species, the Mediterranean coral Oculina patagonica and the tropical coral Turbinaria reniformis. Results showed that C. caespitosa was the species with the highest grazing rates of pico- and nanoplankton, which contributed to more than half of the carbon supplied by photosynthesis. The daily heterotrophic carbon (C) input from these prey (at in situ concentrations) was 88.3 ± 22.9, 16.9 ± 8.2, and 17.6 ± 4.3 μg C cm-2d-1for C. caespitosa, O. patagonica, and T. reniformis, respectively, corresponding to a percent contribution of heterotrophically acquired C to daily animal respiration (CHAR) of 119.8, 28.7, and 15.9%, respectively. C. caespitosa was also able to derive a significant part of its carbon needs from the grazing of microzooplankton and DPOM. Indeed, considering the in situ concentrations, the daily heterotrophic C input from microzooplankton and DPOM would be 32.6 and 10.0 μg C cm-2d-1, giving a CHAR estimation of 44.2 and 13.6%, respectively. Heterotrophy therefore plays a major role in the energy budget of this temperate species. © Inter-Research 2011.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165 - 177
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Ecology - Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology

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