Publications

Bongaerts et al. 2015


scientific article | R Soc Open Sci | open access Open access small aa108fa7f478951c693af64a05bc4b46e6711dbb69a20809512a129d4d6b870f

Prevalent endosymbiont zonation shapes the depth distributions of scleractinian coral species

Bongaerts P, Carmichael M, Hay KB, Tonk L, Frade PR, Hoegh-Guldberg O

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Abstract

Bathymetric distributions of photosynthetic marine invertebrate species are relatively well studied, however the importance of symbiont zonation (i.e. hosting of distinct algal endosymbiont communities over depth) in determining these depth distributions still remains unclear. Here, we assess the prevalence of symbiont zonation in tropical scleractinian corals by genotyping the Symbiodinium of the 25 most common species over a large depth range (down to 60 m) on a Caribbean reef. Symbiont depth zonation was found to be common on a reef-wide scale (11 outof 25 coral species), and a dominant feature in species with the widest depth distributions. With regards to reproductive strategy, symbiont zonation was more common in broadcasting species, which also exhibited a higher level of polymorphism in the symbiont zonation (i.e. number of different Symbiodinium profiles involved). Species with symbiont zonation exhibited significantly broader depth distributions than those without,highlighting the role of symbiont zonation in shaping the vertical distributions of the coral host. Overall, the results demonstrate that coral reefs can consist of highly structured communities over depth when considering both the coral host and their obligate photosymbionts, which probably has strong implications for the extent of connectivity between shallow and mesophotic habitats.

Research sites

10.1098   rsos.140297
Keywords
Meta-data
Depth range
2- 60 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
27 x (total of 5184 words)

Fields
Community structure Connectivity Molecular ecology

Research focus
Scleractinia (Hard Corals) Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae)

Locations
Curaçao

Research platforms
Diving - Technical Open-Circuit
Author profiles
Pim Bongaerts ( 24 pubs)
Pedro Frade ( 6 pubs)