Coral-eating predators are typically thought of as being damaging to reef structures. Coral predator faeces is packed with nutrients that coral reefs depend on for survival, according to a new study. Coral-eating predators are typically thought of as being damaging to reef structures. The discovery confirms that waste from coral-eating fish is an important environmental source of symbiotic dinoflagellate algae on coral reefs. Coral predator poop is jam-packed with living symbiotic algae that coral reefs depend on for survival, a new study shows. It’s an unexpected twist on coral reef symbiosis, says Adrienne Correa, a marine biologist at Rice University. The discovery confirms that poop from coral-eating fish is an important environmental source of symbiotic dinoflagellate algae on coral reefs. Correa says coral-eating predators are typically thought of as biting and weakening reef structures, generating hiding spaces for other organisms and, ultimately, beach sand. In contrast, grazing fish that crop down bushy algae get the limelight for helping reefs maintain healthy coral cover. “The message is, ‘Move over grazers, it’s not just you helping maintain coral dominance. These coral-eating fishes are probably helping too by spreading beneficial coral symbionts,’” Correa says. “This tells us we don’t really know all […]

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