The effects of feeding frequency and symbiosis with zooxanthellae on the biochemical composition of Astrangia Danae Milne Edwards & Haime 1849

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The coral Astrangia danae Milne Edwards & Haime 1849 occurs naturally with and without symbiotic algae and thus may have two sources of nourishment: (1) particles captured by the coral polyps, and (2) photosynthetic products translocated from their zooxanthellae. Symbiotic colonies may have both sources, and nonsymbiotic ones certainly have only the former. The relative importance of these two food sources was studied in the laboratory by examining the tissues of corals fed with frozen brine shrimp. Stock corals were fed once per week. Two to three weeks prior to each experiment, selected corals were placed on one of three feeding schedules: starved (S), fed once per week (1/wk), and fed three times per week (3/wk). The coral tissues were analyzed for protein, lipid, carbohydrate, and zooxanthellae content. Increased feeding frequency (1/wk → 3/wk) resulted in an increased tissue biomass and lipid to protein (L/P) ratio; starvation (1/wk → S) caused a decrease in these parameters. Symbiosis with zooxanthellae had an effect similar to increased feeding frequency in that the S and 1/wk symbiotic corals had a higher L/P ratio than comparable nonsymbiotic ones. There were no significant differences in L/P ratios between the 3/wk symbiotic and nonsymbiotic corals. Freshly collected colonies had a tissue composition most similar to the laboratory animals fed 3/wk. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that ingestion of solid food is the major nutritional source for A. danae in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, but our experiments suggest that the algae can have an important effect on tissue L/P ratios during times of food scarcity. © 1980.

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Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology