Marine Biology

, Volume 145, Issue 5, pp 875–884 | Cite as

The reef environment and competitive success in the Corallimorpharia

  • B. L. Kuguru
  • Y. D. Mgaya
  • M. C. ÖhmanEmail author
  • G. M. Wagner
Research Article


Competitive success within coral reef communities is controlled by various factors. In addition to competitive abilities in direct interactions with a contestant, external influences such as disturbance caused by nutrient input may determine the outcome of antagonistic interactions. We examined the competitive success of corallimorpharians on coral reefs by investigating their distribution patterns within reefs and how well they perform in interference competition with staghorn corals in different environments. Substrate composition and corallimorpharian growth were examined on three reefs in Tanzania under different disturbance regimes using the line-intercept transect and point techniques. A transplant experiment was conducted in which staghorn corals (Acropora formosa) were exposed to the polyps of Rhodactis rhodostoma to establish how competition between corals and corallimorpharians affects their respective distributions. Within reefs corallimorpharians seemed to be more competitive in shallow waters. This could be due to both environmental factors as well as varied competitive abilities depending on surrounding benthos that changed with depth. Reef environment also seemed to influence corallimorpharian growth among reefs as they had the highest densities in the areas with the highest nutrient loads. The transplant experiment revealed that the corallimorpharians had a competitive advantage over the corals, and in comparisons of reefs influenced by different degrees of disturbance, corallimorpharians were most competitive in the area with the highest nutrient content. Hence, stress on coral reefs in the form of raised nutrient loads may favour the competitive success of corallimorpharians.


Coral Reef Reef Flat Hard Coral Scleractinian Coral Reef Crest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The Sida/SAREC Bilateral Marine Science Programme between Sweden and Tanzania financed this study for research in marine zoology (Sida = Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency). The Institute of Marine Sciences, Zanzibar provided research facilities. We acknowledge advice given by N.E. Chadwick-Furman. J.C. den Hartog of the Natural History Museum at Leiden, The Netherlands, assisted in identifying corallimorpharian species. Experiments performed in this study comply with the current laws of Tanzania. We thank two anonymous reviewers for providing constructive criticism of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. L. Kuguru
    • 1
  • Y. D. Mgaya
    • 1
  • M. C. Öhman
    • 2
    Email author
  • G. M. Wagner
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Aquatic Sciences and TechnologyUniversity of Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamTanzania
  2. 2.Dept. of ZoologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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