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Response of coral reef cryptofaunal communities to food and space

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Components of benthic communities in a coral reef system subjected to elevated particulate organic loading show differential biomass responses to this food resource. The macrofaunal biomass of the hard-bottom cryptofaunal community was elevated under such loading; termination of the nutrient input resulted in a rapid decline in hard substratum cryptofaunal biomass. In contrast, adjacent soft substratum communities showed minor variation in macrofaunal biomass. Such pronounced changes in hard-bottom communities to nutrient loading suggests that these endolithic components may be more responsive to and closely regulated by food than are their soft substratum counterparts. Thus, hard-bottom communities probably yield more information than soft-bottom assemblages in sewage (nutrient loading) studies on coral reefs.

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Support for this work was from Environmental Protection Agency Grant No. R803983 and the Marine Affairs Coordinator of the State of Hawaii

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Brock, R.E., Smith, S.V. Response of coral reef cryptofaunal communities to food and space. Coral Reefs 1, 179–183 (1983).

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