, Volume 31, Issue 3, p 869,
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Date: 13 Jun 2012

Tissue loss in corals infested by acoelomorph flatworms (Waminoa sp.)

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Little is known about species and host specificity of epizoic acoelomorphs that live in association with corals (Barneah et al. 2012; Hoeksema et al. 2012). Most records concern zooxanthellate acoels of the genus Waminoa Winsor, 1990, which reproduce both sexually and asexually and may harm their hosts by shading and by eating their protective mucus layer, but no coral injuries have been reported so far (Haapkylä et al. 2009; Naumann et al. 2010).

During a biodiversity survey around Lembeh Island (North Sulawesi, Indonesia) in January–February 2012, various damaged corals were observed that were partly or completely covered by acoels. A specimen of the mushroom coral Danafungia scruposa (Klunzinger, 1879) had 100 % Waminoa cover on its upper surface, except for a part with tissue loss (Fig. 1). Its mouth appeared clogged by sediment (Fig. 1a). The damaged area was not similar to the contact zone with neighbouring corals, although interaction with these corals may have weakened the mushr ...