Ascidian recruitment patterns on an artificial reef in Eilat (Red Sea).

  • Shenkar N
  • Zeldman Y
  • Loya Y
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Abstract

Although ascidians are conspicuous members of the fouling community not much is known regarding their recruitment patterns in coral reefs. A 1-year study was carried out along the Red Sea coast of Israel to examine the effects of season and spatial distribution on ascidian recruitment to artificial marine structures. In general, autumn and spring were characterized by higher coverage with a significantly higher percentage of cover of Didemnum granulatum in autumn and higher numbers of Herdmania momus in spring. These species contributed the most to similarity between treatments consequently setting the pattern for each group (colonial and solitary). Halocynthia spinosa had significantly higher numbers during winter and Phallusia nigra was absent in spring and winter. H. momus showed a preference for horizontal surfaces. P. nigra and Ascidia cannelata showed a preference for floating units. It is concluded that the ascidian recruitment patterns are species-specific and vary between seasons, orientation and position on the substrata and in the water column.

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