Coral Reefs

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 423–428 | Cite as

Dietary shift in corallivorous Drupella snails following a major bleaching event at Koh Tao, Gulf of Thailand

  • B. W. HoeksemaEmail author
  • C. Scott
  • J. D. True


The island Koh Tao in the western Gulf of Thailand suffered severe coral bleaching in 2010. Its mushroom coral fauna of 20 species was surveyed during the bleaching in 2010 and after the bleaching in 2011. Multi-species assemblages of free-living mushroom corals occurred around the island, two of which were invaded by corallivorous Drupella snails after the bleaching. Previously these gastropods were known to mainly consume branching corals and hardly any mushroom corals. The snails were found preying on four fungiid species, three of which were susceptible to bleaching. The dietary shift became apparent after populations of preferred prey species (Acroporidae and Pocilloporidae) had died during the bleaching event. It seems that bleaching mortality reduced the availability of preferred prey, causing the corallivores to switch to less preferred species that occur in dense aggregations.


Coral aggregations Coral bleaching Corallivory Mushroom corals Predation 



The first author received a research grant from the Treub Maatschappij. He is grateful for logistic support offered by Jennifer Matthews of Big Blue Conservation. Nathan Cook of Eco Koh Tao and Devrim Zahir of New Heaven Dive School helped the second author by collecting coral mortality data. We thank three anonymous reviewers for their constructive remarks.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine ZoologyNaturalis Biodiversity CenterLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Marine BranchSave Koh Tao Community GroupKoh TaoThailand
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Faculty of SciencePrince of Songkhla UniversityHatYaiThailand

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