Coral Reef Growth in the Galápagos: Limitation by Sea Urchins

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Science  05 Jan 1979:
Vol. 203, Issue 4375, pp. 47-49
DOI: 10.1126/science.203.4375.47


The regular echinoid Eucidaris thouarsii is a conspicuous omnivore on coral bottoms in the Galápagos. Unlike Eucidaris in Panama and mainland Ecuador, Galápagos Eucidaris are large and abundant and graze heavily in the open on live corals day and night. These differences are probably due in large part to more intense predation by fishes on mainland compared with island urchin populations. An assessment of coral growth versus coral attrition from grazing shows that Eucidaris interferes with the establishment of pocilloporid reef frame and therefore reduces reef growth in the Galápagos.