Migration, habitat use, and competition among mobile corals (Scleractinia: Fungiidae) in the Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea

N. Chadwick-Furman*, Y. Loya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the impact of seven species of mobile mushroom corals (Fungiidae) on the community structure of sheltered reef slopes in terms of their patterns of migration, habitat use and competition with other benthic organisms. On fringing reefs at Eilat, Red Sea, polyps detached at 1 to 6 cm length, and grew to 11-55 cm length. Attached mushroom corals were oriented vertically in reef cavities. Detached corals migrated downward on the reef slope and onto rubble or soft substratum at the reef base, at 29 to 71 cmyr-1. Mobility decreased with corallum size and extent of undersurface ornamentation. In aquaria, small corals righted themselves and migrated up to 6 cm d-1 by nocturnally inflating and pushing their tissues against the substratum. Autonomous coral behavior and storm-generated water motion appeared to account for most fungiid mobility at Eilat. Mushroom corals did not damage each other upon contact, even in multi-species aggregations, but unilaterally damaged non-fungiid scleractinian corals. Their dominance during contact interactions retards overgrowth by larger attached scleractinians, and mobility allows them to colonize soft substrata not accessible to most other reef corals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-623
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1992


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