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SCUBA belt transects for abundance data H. cochlea and H. aequicostatus

Cite this dataset

Herrán, Natalia (2023). SCUBA belt transects for abundance data H. cochlea and H. aequicostatus [Dataset]. Dryad.


Marine symbioses are integral to the persistence of ecosystem functioning in coral reefs. Solitary corals of the species Heteropsammia cochlea and Heterocyathus aequicostatus have been observed to live in symbiosis with the sipunculan worm Aspidosiphon muelleri muelleri, which inhabits a cavity within the coral, in Zanzibar (Tanzania). The symbiosis of these photosymbiotic corals enables the coral holobiont to move, in fine to coarse unconsolidated substrata, a process termed as “walking”. This allows the coral to escape sediment cover in turbid conditions which is crucial for these light-dependent species. An additional commensalistic symbiosis of this coral-worm holobiont is found between the Aspidosiphon worm and the cryptoendolithic bivalve Jousseaumiella sp., which resides within the cavity of the coral skeleton. To understand the morphological alterations caused by these symbioses, interspecific relationships, with respect to the carbonate structures between these three organisms, are documented using high-resolution imaging techniques (scanning electron microscopy and µCT scanning). Documenting multi-layered symbioses can shed light on how morphological plasticity interacts with environmental conditions to contribute to species persistence.


SCUBA Dive transects. 20 m x 2 m belt transect method (English et al. 1994).


Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research