[Coral-List] positive effects of algae on corals

James Cervino PhD. jcervino at whoi.edu
Sun Nov 11 09:28:13 EST 2007

Hi John, Thanks for your response. See comments below:

Dr Bruno: I am an admitted pathological optimist.  But no, I am not
* advocating anything of the kind.  I was simply asking for examples of
* positive effects of algae on corals (it's called facilitation and it
* is a really common and important ecological phenomenon-certainly
* nothing to be afraid of), nothing more.   I am writing a paper
* describing such a result and was curious what else had been done or
* observed in this area.

James: Some of the early papers by CM Young or some of the other pioneers never
discuss the benefit of algal competition or increased algal colonization
between or surrounding coral colonies. The MBL or Columbia University library
has many older papers and articles that discuss descriptions, and show very old
pictures describing Reef Corals and their normal adapted symbiotic associations
in oligotrophic ecosystems without the competition with smothering macroalgae.
These academic descriptions and images show reefs doing just fine in these
types of conditions.

One great paper published in Biosciences discusses the  biochemistry and
foundational templates needed for a healthy proliferant reef system see:
Mutualistic Symbioses Adapted to Nutrient-Poor Environments. "BioSciences"
L. Muscatine, James W. Porter BioScience, Vol. 27, No. 7 (Jul., 1977), pp. or
Studies on the physiology of corals. IV. The structure, distribution and
physiology of the 
 The nature of reef-building (hermatypic) corals
CM Yonge - Bull. Mar. Sci, 1973.

* I have done a lot of non-reef work on facilitation and how
* environmental conditions can cause species interactions to switch
* between net positive and negative.  Anyway, I have been thinking
* about some of this in the context of reefs and reef phase shifts, etc.

James: I look at the environmental conditions described in these classic papers,
from personal field observations see a serious negative switch being turned on.
Us bottom-uppers feel that that there is no landscaper on the planet that can
control the algal biomass on the reefs today.

* Ill assume you know I was not saying that.  But I will point out, so
* far, nobody has described a case where the restoration of herbivores
* did not lead to rapid and near complete macroalgal reductions.  But I
* really want to hear about counter examples.  If you know of one,
* please share.

James: I really dont know....BUT never in the midst of my classic journal search
at the MBL, did I ever see ONE positive example of algal competition being a
beneficial factor in an oligotrophic symbiotic coral reef community. There are
about another 10 years of reading to go, however, the more I read the more I
become sad and not truly understanding my colleagues, aka. the "top-downers".

Thanks John, James

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