Chemical versus structural defense against fish predation in two dominant soft coral species (Xeniidae) in the Red Sea.

Hoang Xuan, Ben, Sawall, Yvonne, Al-Sofyani, Abdulmohsin and Wahl, Martin (2015) Chemical versus structural defense against fish predation in two dominant soft coral species (Xeniidae) in the Red Sea. Open Access Aquatic Biology, 23 . pp. 129-137. DOI 10.3354/ab00614.

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Abstract

Soft corals of the family Xeniidae are particularly abundant in Red Sea coral reefs. Their success may be partly due to a strong defense mechanism against fish predation. To test this, we conducted field and aquarium experiments in which we assessed the antifeeding effect of secondary metabolites of 2 common xeniid species, Ovabunda crenata and Heteroxenia ghardaqensis. In the field experiment, the metabolites of both investigated species reduced feeding on experimental food pellets in the natural population of Red Sea reef fishes by 86 and 92% for O. crenata and H. ghardaqensis, respectively. In the aquarium experiment, natural concentration of crude extract reduced feeding on experimental food pellets in the common reef fish Thalassoma lunare (moon wrasse) by 83 and 85%, respectively. Moon wrasse feeding was even reduced at extract concentrations as low as 12.5% of the natural concentration in living soft coral tissues. To assess the potential of a structural anti-feeding defence, sclerites of O. crenata were extracted and mixed into food pellets at natural, doubled and reduced concentration without and in combination with crude extract at 25% of natural concentration, and tested in an aquarium experiment. The sclerites did not show any effect on the feeding behavior of the moon wrasse indicating that sclerites provide structural support rather than antifeeding defense. H. ghardaqensis lacks sclerites. We conclude that the conspicuous abundance of xeniid soft coral species in the Red Sea is likely a consequence of a strong chemical defence, rather than physical defences, against potential predators.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000349995200003
Keywords: Chemical defense; Feeding deterrence; Sclerites ; Soft coral; Xeniidae; Ovabunda; Heteroxenia; Red Sea
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R08
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.3354/ab00614
ISSN: 1864-7790
Projects: Jeddah Transect, Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2015 13:38
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2017 12:43
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/26652

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