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Invasive potential of the coral Tubastraea coccinea in the southwest Atlantic
Riul, P.; Targino, C.H.; Júnior, L.A.C.; Creed, J.C.; Horta, P.A.; Costa, G.C. (2013). Invasive potential of the coral Tubastraea coccinea in the southwest Atlantic. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 480: 73-81. https://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps10200
In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630; e-ISSN 1616-1599, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Tubastraea coccinea Lesson, 1830 [WoRMS]
    Marine/Coastal
Author keywords
    Bio-Oracle · Coral reefs · Invasion Ecology · Southwestern Atlantic · Species distribution modeling

Authors  Top 
  • Riul, P.
  • Targino, C.H.
  • Júnior, L.A.C.
  • Creed, J.C.
  • Horta, P.A.
  • Costa, G.C.

Abstract
    The orange cup coral Tubastraea coccinea was the first scleractinean to invade the western Atlantic. The species occurs throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and has now established itself in the southwest Atlantic along the Brazilian coast. T. coccinea modifies native benthic communities, competes with an endemic coral species and demonstrates widespread invasive potential. We used species distribution modeling (SDM) to predict climatically suitable habitats for T. coccinea along the coastline of the southwestern Atlantic and identify the extent of the putative effects of this species on the native coral Mussismilia hispida by estimating areas of potential overlap between these species. The resulting SDMs predicted a large area of climatically suitable habitat available for invasion by T. coccinea and also predicted widespread occurrence of the endemic M. hispida along the Brazilian coast. The prediction of the T. coccinea distribution model suggests that suitable environmental conditions for the species occur throughout most of the littoral zone, including most of Brazil’s marine protected areas. The overlap of the SDMs of M. hispida and T. coccinea revealed a large area with high habitat suitability for both species. Considering the invasive potential of T. coccinea and its ecological consequences, we concluded that this alien species could change the benthic communities of most of the shallow Brazilian coast and, as the invasive and native coral species have been shown to be antagonistic, T. coccinea represents a serious threat to M. hispida throughout most of its potential geographical distribution.

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