Hoeskema B.W., Scott, C. & True J. 2013. Dietary shift in corallivorous Drupella snails following a major bleaching event at Koh Tao, Gulf of Thailand. Coral Reefs.

Drupella snailsAbstract:

The island Koh Tao in the western Gulf of Thailand suffered severe coral bleaching in 2010. Its mushroom coral fauna of 20 species was surveyed during the bleaching in 2010 and after the bleaching in 2011. Multi-species assemblages of free-living mushroom corals occurred around the island, two of which were invaded by corallivorous Drupella snails after the bleaching. Previously these gastropods were known to mainly consume branching corals and hardly any mushroom corals. The snails were found preying on four fungiid species, three of which were susceptible to bleaching. The dietary shift became apparent after populations of preferred prey species (Acroporidae and Pocilloporidae) had died during the bleaching event. It seems that bleaching mortality reduced the availability of preferred prey, causing the corallivores to switch to less preferred species that occur in dense aggregations.

 

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