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Colonization and growth of crustose coralline algae (Corallinales, Rhodophyta) on the Rocas Atoll

Alexandre Bigio Villas Bôas, Marcia A. de O. Figueiredo, Roberto Campos Villaça


Crustose coralline algae play a fundamental role in reef construction all over the world. The aims fo this study were to identify and estimate the abundance of the dominant crustose coralline algae in shallow reef habitats, measuring their colonization, growth rates and productivity. Crusts sampled from different habitats were collected on leeward and windward reefs. Discs made of epoxy putty were fixed on the reef surface to follow coralline colonization and discs containing the dominant coralline algae were fixed on different habitats to measure the crusts' marginal growth. The primary production experiments followed the clear and dark bottle method for dissolved oxygen reading. Porolithon pachydermum was confirmed as the dominant crustose coralline alga on the Rocas Atoll. The non-cryptic flat form of P. pachydermum showed a faster growth rate on the leeward than on the windward reef. This form also had a faster growth rate on the reef crest (0.05 mm.day-1) than on the reef flat (0.01 mm.day-1). The cryptic protuberant form showed a trend, though not significant, towards a faster growth rate on the reef crest and in tidal pools than on the reef flat. Colonization was, in general, very slow as compared to that presented by other reef studies. P. pachydermum was a productive crust both in non-cryptic and cryptic habitats.


Crustose coralline alga;Growth rates;Rocas Atoll

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-87592005000200005

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