Fish or germs? Microbial dynamics associated with changing trophic structures on coral reefs

Elizabeth A. Dinsdale, Forest Rohwer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Overfishing major predators has dramatically changed the trophic structures of coral reefs. Here, we argue that the photosynthate, which would normally support the large predators via trophic transfers, is being used by microbes (Bacteria and Archaea) on degraded reefs. The supply of higher concentrations of photosynthate to the microbes increases their population size and enables heterotrophic microbes to dominate the community. In turn, the heterotrophic microbes detrimentally affect the corals causing disease outbreaks and death, which causes the phase shift from coral to fleshy algae (including macroalgae and turf algae) dominated reefs. To succeed, conservation and restoration efforts need to understand and consider the influence of microbes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCoral Reefs
Subtitle of host publicationAn Ecosystem in Transition
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Pages231-240
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9789400701137
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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