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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A survey of mushroom corals and the effects of water flow on sediment removal in Fungia species


Free living corals are and important part of coral reef ecosystems. The members of the coral genus Fungia (Scleractinia, Fungiidae) exist as individual, free living, polyps. Fungiid corals can move actively, though expiation of body tissue, or passively, via being carried by strong currents. It was observed that fungiids were often found in close proximity to one another in the shallow reefs of Moorea, French Polynesia. This study set out to determine if fungiids were aggregated and if so, to test three factors which may be contributing to these aggregations; fungiid size, substrate preference and current speed. Furthermore, the effect of current on the rate at which fungiids can remove sediment from their bodies was tested. It was found that fungiids are aggregated. These aggregations consist of individuals of similar ages. Aggregations are found in branching corals much more often than expected and on sand much less often than expected. Aggregated fungiids are found in areas of lower current speed than solitary fungiids. Finally, high current speeds increase fungiids ability to remove sediment from their bodies.

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