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Effects of three types of simulated fish predation on the growth and recovery from damage of massive Porites spp. and Pocillopora meandrina
The effects of corallivory on small colonies of massive Porites spp. (<5 cm diameter) and Pocillopora meandrina (<7 cm high) were explored in situ on shallow reefs in Moorea, French Polynesia. Experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that corals respond equally to damage caused by single bites of fishes belonging to 3 functional feeding guilds defined as excavators, scrapers, and browsers, which damage corals in different ways. While recovering from damage, massive Porites spp. grew 24 to 43% faster by weight than P. meandrina, and lesions caused by scraping and browsing healed more rapidly on P. meandrina than on massive Porites spp.; lesions caused by excavation healed more rapidly on massive Porites spp. than on P. meandrina. These results suggest that the effects of fish corallivores differ between coral taxa, with the contrasting effects potentially arising from differences in skeletal structure, corallum morphology, and mode of corallivore feeding.