The Inhibition of the Blue Coral Heliopora Coerulea on the Recruitment of Scleractinian Coral Larval

Authors:Balanos Marc, Tolentino Antonio


The octagonal Heliopora coerulea has become one of the main reef-building corals in the Bolinao Reef Complex in the northern Philippines. One of the possible mechanisms that may lead to the success of the Heliopora coerulea over scleractinian corals is its ability to effectively compete for space on the reef by inhibiting the settlement of coral larvae in its vicinity. To determine whether cyanobacteria can indeed inhibit larval recruitment, settlement tiles were deployed inside the cyanobacteria aggregates or on a hard substrate at a distance of about 2 to 3 meters. Three months after deployment, only one cyanobacterial recruit was observed on the tiles placed in the aggregate, while many different coral recruits were observed on the tiles on the substrate away from the blue coral. These results indicate that adult cyanobacteria can inhibit the settlement of scleral larvae. This effect may be mediated by a variety of mechanisms, such as the production of allelopathic compounds, the deployment of mesenteric filaments, and the removal of tentacles. However, further research is needed to determine the competition modes used by corals.

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