Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 4, pp 709–722 | Cite as

Motile cryptofauna associated with live and dead coral substrates: implications for coral mortality and framework erosion

  • Ian C. EnochsEmail author
Original Paper


Coral reef cryptofauna are a diverse group of metazoan taxa that live within intra- and inter-skeletal voids formed by framework structures. Despite a hypothesized high biomass and numerous trophic roles, they remain uncharacterized relative to exposed reef communities. Motile cryptofauna were sampled from live coral colonies and dead frameworks typifying four successive levels of degradation on an eastern Pacific pocilloporid reef. Abundances and biomass were higher on live versus dead corals habitats. The density of cryptofauna per volume substrate was highest on dead coral frameworks of intermediate degradation, where complex eroded substrates provide abundant shelters. These data have important and far-reaching ramifications for how the diverse multispecies assemblages that are reef ecosystems will respond to anthropogenic stressors such as those associated with climate change. Extreme levels of coral mortality, bioerosion, and habitat destruction will lead to impairment and eventually loss of ecosystem functions.


Reef Fish Coral Cover Trophic Group Live Coral Dead Coral 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author is grateful for the unwavering support, expert advice, and inspiring knowledge of Peter W. Glynn. Assistance with fieldwork was provided by L. Toth, V. Brandtneris, D. Manzello, and R. Muthukrishnan. J. Afflerbach, V. Brandtneris, I. Chambers, A. Goodson, A. Gracie, D. Graham, A. Jung, J. Kelly, N. Kraft, L. O’Neill, A. Mallozzi, A. Pflaumer, and S. Thompson helped process specimens. The critical reviews of P. Glynn, A. Bakun, C. Langdon, D. Lirman, D. Manzello, and B. Riegl greatly enhanced the quality of this paper. Financial support for this research was provided by NSF grant OCE-0526361 to P. Glynn and by the American Museum of Natural History Lerner-Gray Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories (AOML)NOAAMiamiUSA

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