Competitive and Defensive Mechanisms of Corals

Competition for space is one of the most important factors limiting populations on marine hard substrata. Obviously there must be some sort of controls to allow a high diversity of life to exist in such a limited area. This is why sessile colonial marine organisms such as anemones, sponges, soft and stony corals have developed various mechanisms for defending their space and moving into new ones (Sammarco et al., 1983). Failure to recognize this fact can cause a lot of frustration for the aquarist, and can lead to many expensive losses. Sometimes prédation controls growth, but this is usually not a factor in our aquariums, at least it shouldn't be! There are four main mechanisms that marine invertebrates use to establish their territory: rapid growth to "shade-out" competitors; the development of aggressive structures such as mesenterial (gut) filaments, sweeper tentacles and acrorhagi and; the release of toxic compounds into the water. In many cases an organism will use a combination of these tactics.

Acontia filaments produced along the growing margin of a section of an Acropora cervicornis branch that had grown onto the front glass of an aquarium. These acontia swept the surface of the glass, killing algae there before the tissue growth advanced over the area. J. Sprung.

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  • daniela
    What are the competitive and defensive mechanisms of corals?
    8 years ago
  • philipp
    What are the competitive and defensive mechanisms of coral?
    8 years ago

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