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Sea urchin bioerosion on coral reefs: place in the carbonate budget and relevant variables

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Abstract

Two aspects of erosion by sea urchins (Echinoidea) in coral reef habitats are: the direct passage of reef framework material through the gut and the indirect effects through the weakening of the reef structure. Urchin bioerosion can equal or exceed reef carbonate production. The impact of urchins on reefs depends on three variables: species type, test size and population density. Large differences in bioerosion by urchins of the same test size occur between different species. Size differences between species in a sea urchin community, as well as size differences within a species along a reef, can be significant. Bioerosion per urchin increases enormously with size. Changes in population density, through time and space, result in significant changes in bioerosion. It is demonstrated how the interaction of these variables determines in-situ sea urchin bioerosion.

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Bak, R.P.M. Sea urchin bioerosion on coral reefs: place in the carbonate budget and relevant variables. Coral Reefs 13, 99–103 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00300768

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