Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

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Nongeniculate coralline Ecology

Ecological Roles   Competition

Nongeniculate corallines have many important ecological roles:

  • cement coral reefs so that it can build and grow

  • food source for many small marine invertebrates

  • source of CaCO 3 sand

  • some produce chemicals that can induce marine invertebrates to go through metamorphosis (such as Melobesia spp. emitting an exogenous cue to induce metamorphosis in Strongylocentrotus  a sea urchin8

  • many are epiphytes

  • also many host epiphytes such as diatoms and fungi (picture)

  • Diagram of dominance paradigm of relationships of primary producers and human impact on coral reefs. Human activities reduce animals grazing and increase nutrients. (modified from Littler and Littler 19846)

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Biotic Interaction: Competition

Nongeniculate corallines often compete for space in an area. This space can be on another plant or on a rock. When two corallines run into each other there can be many possible outcomes.1) They stop growing where they meet each other. 2) One tries to overgrow the other (picture). 3) One overgrows the other but then is knocked off.

Generally, thicker corallines typically overgrow thinner ones. Overgrowth would allow a coralline alga space and light to grow. For some algae, overgrowth becomes dangerous because it can become easier to be knocked off the substratum. For example, one species of Pneophyllum often overgrew Melobesia. However, a Melobesia colony could still reproduce despite the fact that it was under another alga. In addition, the Pneophyllum often became cracked and dislodged from where it overgrew Melobesia.

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© 2001 Melissa Roth