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Marine ecology

Worms start the reef-building process

Naturevolume 409page152 (2001) | Download Citation



For reefs to form in wave-swept environments, the sessile organisms that build them need stable foundations1,2. Here we provide evidence that marine worms actively create patches of stable habitat on the sea bed which provide them with food and shelter. In so doing, they bring reef-building organisms together on hard surfaces and so create suitable conditions for reefs to develop.

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    Wood, R. Reef Evolution (Oxford Univ. Press, 1999).

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    Jackson, J. B. C. Am. Nat. 111, 743– 747 (1977).

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    Parker, S. P. Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms 2 18– 19 (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1982).

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    Jackson, J. B. C. Bull. Mar. Sci. 39, 588– 606 (1986).

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    Jackson, J. B. C. & Winston, J. E. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 57, 135–147 (1982).

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    Adey, W. H. & Steneck, R. S. in The Ecology of Deep and Shallow Coral Reefs Vol. 2 (ed. Reaka, M. L.) 163– 187 (Office of Undersea Research, NOAA, Rockville, 1985).

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  1. Observatoire Océanologique Européen, Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Avenue Saint-Martin , MC 98000, Monaco

    • J. R. M. Chisholm
  2. Watermark Films, PO Box 1859, Townsville, 4810, Queensland, Australia

    • R. Kelley


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Correspondence to J. R. M. Chisholm.

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