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Spirobranchus giganteus, a vibrantly colored polychaete, exhibits a commensalistic relationship with the coral substrate on which it burrows. To determine the coral preference of S. giganteus, we studied the distribution of individuals on corals at two sites in the Belizean Barrier Reef, and also examined color morph distribution of these polychaetes on corals. We found that S. giganteus significantly prefers corals in the genus Diplora. There was no significant difference in color morph distribution across coral genera, but site-specific effects were observed. Variation in color within S. giganteus populations is likely more dependent on geographic location and less on coral substrate. The association of S. giganteus with Diplora may cause populations of the polychaete to decline in Caribbean reefs where Diplora is threatened.


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18 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • Coral preference of Spirobranchus giganteus in the Belize Barrier Reef

  • Journal title
    • Papers & Publications

  • Volume
    • 3

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      The research was made possible by the University of the South through the Field Studies in Belize program. We would like to thank Jordan Casey for her support in the field and additional assistance. We also thank the staff at Carrie Bow Caye for providing logistical support, and Jonathan Evans, the course director, for his assistance throughout.