parasites on corals

Bridget Elliott b.elliott at
Mon Nov 6 07:53:35 EST 2000

Dear all

An MSc student investigating parasitism/mutualism of polychaete worms (Spirobranchus) on Acropora plates at Sodwana (South Africa), to see if they can be used as an indicator of reef health. We are battling to find references that refer to any kind of data on this phenomenon, and have only been able to find mostly anecdotal info.

She is hypothesising that areas that are shallower and with higher diver number will be more stressed, and thus will have a greater degree of infestation of Spirobranchus. Plates that occur deeper should have fewer parasites (less storm damage and fewer divers), as should less dived sites.

Has anyone come across any information (even unpublished reports) about the effects of Spirobranchus or other creatures on coral health (does they perhaps retard coral growth), or any reports that have sucessfully linked damage to numbers of parasites or other bioindicators ?

Many thanks
Bridget Armstrong
KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service
South Africa
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