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Coral Endolithic Algae: Life in a Protected Environment

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Title: Coral Endolithic Algae: Life in a Protected Environment
Authors: Shashar, N.
Banaszak, A.T.
Lesser, M.P.
Amrami, D.
Issue Date: Apr 1997
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Citation: Shashar N, Banaszak AT, Lesser MP, Amrami D. 1997. Coral endolithic algae: life in a protected environment. Pac Sci 51(2): 167-173.
Abstract: Endolithic algae inhabiting skeletons of living corals appear to be
adapted to an extreme environment created by the coral. However, measurements
on three coral species from the genus Porites revealed that these corals provide
several modes of protection to the algae as well. High concentrations of ultraviolet
(UV)-absorbing compounds, mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs), were found in
the tissues of all corals examined, but they were not detected in extracts of the
endolithic algae. Coral tissues and skeleton filter 93.98-99.5% of the ambient UV
radiation and thus shade the endolithic algae from this potentially damaging radiation.
In addition endolithic algae are largely relieved from grazing pressure by herbivorous
fish, because only 4% of fish bites on Porites corals resulted in exposed endolithic
algae. Thus, the coral skeleton provides a refuge to the endolithic algae from some
of the environmental pressures normally experienced by free-living algae on the reef.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 51, Number 2, 1997

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