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Even in the Red Sea, Xenia are taking over

By Leonard Ho - Posted Jul 29, 2015 10:00 AM
Reefkeepers know Red Sea Xenia for both their beauty and their aggressive growth. They're weeds in the wild too. 37 years of monitoring a section of the Red Sea revealed that stony coral growth is declining, and Xenia are colonizing in their place.
Even in the Red Sea, Xenia are taking over

Birdseye quadrat view of the portion of monitored coral reef.

According to the open access paper published in Coral Reefs:

Although some massive corals grew noticeably, colony growth in the few persisting branching corals was insubstantial. Overall, hermatypic coral cover declined by ~10 %, and ahermatypic cover (mostly Xeniidae) increased by ~15 %. These changes were accompanied by a conspicuous increase in sand area (~10 %) and substantial decrease in bare reef framework (~20 %), suggesting major structural habitat loss with implications for net reef accretion and associated biodiversity.

A 25% swing between stony and soft coral is rather significant.  Without reef-building stony corals, coral reefs slowly erode away, as was demonstrated by the 10% increase in sand area.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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