The predominantly facultative nature of epibiosis: experimental and observational evidence.

Mark, O. and Wahl, Martin (1999) The predominantly facultative nature of epibiosis: experimental and observational evidence. Open Access Marine Ecology Progress Series, 187 . pp. 59-66. DOI 10.3354/meps187059.

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Epibiosis is a spatially close association between 2 or more organisms belonging to the same or different species. Through direct and indirect interactions, this association has major effects on the species involved and on community dynamics. When the effects are predominantly beneficial for epibiont and basibiont, coevolution can be expected to lead to associational specificity. Circumstantial evidence, however, suggests that many epibionts are non-specific substratum-generalists. In this arti-cle, we investigate the commonness of specificity in epibiotic associations. In a first approach, we inves-tigated the in situ recruitment preferences of potential epibionts when choosing between artificial and living substrata. After exposure for 3 wk in early summer, an early successional community had estab-lished, comprising cyanobacteria, diatoms, sesslle colonial ciliates and red algae. All species recruited on almost all substrata available. However, artificial substrata were usually preferred over living sur-faces. Consequently, the species studied are class~fied as facultative epibionts. An analysis of a list of over 2000 epibiotic associations corroborated these results, the majority of described 'epibionts' are not basibiont-specific and generally occur on non-living substrata as well. Also, basibiont species usually bear more than 1 epibiont species. Relative to each other, epibionts and basibionts are characterised by a typical set of life history traits. We conclude that specific and obligate epibionts are rare. Their scarcity is discussed in view of multilevel antifouling defences and presumptive evolutionary transi-tions from epibiosis towards endoparasitism or endosymbiosis.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Recruitment; Facultative epibionts; Epibiosis; Parasitism; Symbiosis; Artificial substrata; Living substrata
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.3354/meps187059
ISSN: 0171-8630
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:24
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2019 08:09

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