IMIS | Lifewatch regional portal

You are here


[ report an error in this record ]basket (0): add | show Print this page

Space-filling and benthic competition on coral reefs
George, E.; Mullinix, J.A.; Meng, F.; Bailey, B.A.; Edwards, C.; Felts, B.; Haas, A.F.; Hartmann, A.C.; Mueller, B.; Roach, T.N.F.; Salamon, P.; Silveira, C.B.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Rohwer, F.; Luque, A. (2021). Space-filling and benthic competition on coral reefs. PeerJ 9: e11213.

Additional data:
In: PeerJ. PeerJ: Corte Madera & London. ISSN 2167-8359, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Coral geometry; Coral competition; Coral ecology; Photogrammetry; 3D modelling

Authors  Top 
  • George, E.
  • Mullinix, J.A.
  • Meng, F.
  • Bailey, B.A.
  • Edwards, C.
  • Felts, B.
  • Haas, A.F., more
  • Hartmann, A.C.
  • Mueller, B.
  • Roach, T.N.F.
  • Salamon, P.
  • Silveira, C.B.
  • Vermeij, M.J.A.
  • Rohwer, F.
  • Luque, A.

    Reef-building corals are ecosystem engineers that compete with other benthic organisms for space and resources. Corals harvest energy through their surface by photosynthesis and heterotrophic feeding, and they divert part of this energy to defend their outer colony perimeter against competitors. Here, we hypothesized that corals with a larger space-filling surface and smaller perimeters increase energy gain while reducing the exposure to competitors. This predicted an association between these two geometric properties of corals and the competitive outcome against other benthic organisms. To test the prediction, fifty coral colonies from the Caribbean island of Curaçao were rendered using digital 3D and 2D reconstructions. The surface areas, perimeters, box-counting dimensions (as a proxy of surface and perimeter space-filling), and other geometric properties were extracted and analyzed with respect to the percentage of the perimeter losing or winning against competitors based on the coral tissue apparent growth or damage. The increase in surface space-filling dimension was the only significant single indicator of coral winning outcomes, but the combination of surface space-filling dimension with perimeter length increased the statistical prediction of coral competition outcomes. Corals with larger surface space-filling dimensions (Ds> 2) and smaller perimeters displayed more winning outcomes, confirming the initial hypothesis. We propose that the space-filling property of coral surfaces complemented with other proxies of coral competitiveness, such as life history traits, will provide a more accurate quantitative characterization of coral competition outcomes on coral reefs. This framework also applies to other organisms or ecological systems that rely on complex surfaces to obtain energy for competition.

All data in the Integrated Marine Information System (IMIS) is subject to the VLIZ privacy policy Top | Authors