Bioerosion is an important limiting factor in carbonate accretion and reef framework development; however, few studies have quantified the direct impact of macroborers on high-latitude coral communities, which are viewed as potential refuge during a period of global warming. In this study, internal macrobioerosion of Porites corals was examined at Daya Bay, subtropical northern South China Sea. The principal borers were the bivalve Lithophaga spp. and the sponges Cliona spp. and Cliothosa spp. (≥80 %), while sipunculid and polychaete worms and barnacles accounted for small amounts of bioerosion (≤20 %). Porites corals were heavily bioeroded in areas impacted by aquacultural and urban activities (10.34–27.55 %) compared with corals in relatively unpolluted areas (2.18–6.76 %). High levels of bioerosion, especially boring bivalve infestation, significantly weaken the corals and increase their susceptibility to dislodgement and fragmentation in typhoons, limiting accumulation of limestone framework. This study implies that carbonate accretion and reef development for high-latitude coral communities may be limited in future high-CO2 and eutrophication-stressed environments.
Chen T., Li S. & Yu K., in press. Macrobioerosion in Porites corals in subtropical northern South China Sea: a limiting factor for high-latitude reef framework development. Coral Reefs. doi: 10.1007/s00338-012-0946-4. Article (subscription required).