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Mar Pollut Bull. 2014 Aug 30;85(2):783-8. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.12.012. Epub 2013 Dec 18.

Community-level destruction of hard corals by the sea urchin Diadema setosum.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong. Electronic address:
  • 2Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Hong Kong SAR Government, Hong Kong.
  • 3Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Hong Kong SAR Government, Hong Kong. Electronic address:


Sea urchins are common herbivores and bioeroders of coral ecosystems, but rarely have they been reported as corallivores. We determined the spatial pattern of hard coral damage due to corallivory and bioerosion by the sea urchin Diadema setosum Leske in Hong Kong waters. Coral damage was common at the northeastern sites, with 23.7 - 90.3% colonies being either collapsed or severely damaged with >25% tissue loss. Many genera of corals were impacted by the sea urchin but the damage was most obvious for the structure forming genus Platygyra. The percentage of severely damaged and collapsed coral had significant positive correlation with the abundance of D. setosum, which ranged from 0.01 to 5.2 individuals per coral head or 0.1 - 21.1 individuals m(-2) across the study sites. Remedial management actions such as sea urchin removal are urgently needed to save these fringing coral communities.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Bioerosion; Coral; Diadema; Platygyra; Predation; Sea urchin

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