Corals hosting symbiotic hydrozoans are less susceptible to predation and disease

Simone Montano, Simone Fattorini, Valeriano Parravicini, Michael L. Berumen, Paolo Galli, Davide Maggioni, Roberto Arrigoni, Davide Seveso, Giovanni Strona*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


In spite of growing evidence that climate change may dramatically affect networks of interacting species, whether-and to what extent-ecological interactions can mediate species’ responses to disturbances is an open question. Here we show how a largely overseen association such as that between hydrozoans and scleractinian corals could be possibly associated with a reduction in coral susceptibility to ever-increasing predator and disease outbreaks. We examined 2455 scleractinian colonies (from both Maldivian and the Saudi Arabian coral reefs) searching for non-randompatterns in the occurrence of hydrozoans on corals showing signs of different health conditions (i.e. bleaching, algal overgrowth, corallivory and different coral diseases). We show that, after accounting for geographical, ecological and co-evolutionary factors, signs of disease and corallivory are significantly lower in coral colonies hosting hydrozoans than in hydrozoan-free ones. This finding has important implications for our understanding of the ecology of coral reefs, and for their conservation in the current scenario of global change, because it suggests that symbiotic hydrozoans may play an active role in protecting their scleractinian hosts from stresses induced by warming water temperatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20172405
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1869
StatePublished - Dec 20 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The views expressed are purely those of the writers and may not in any circumstance be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission. We thank the staff of KAUST Reef Ecology Lab for technical assistance during field activities in Saudi Arabia.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


  • Bleaching
  • Climate change
  • Co-evolution
  • Coral reefs
  • Drupella

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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