Coral-associated invertebrates are the most significant contributors to the diversity of reef ecosystems, but no studies have examined how larvae manage to settle and grow in their coral hosts. Video recordings were used to document this process in the coral barnacle Darwiniella angularis associated with the coral Cyphastrea chalcidicum. Settlement and metamorphosis in feeding juveniles lasted 8–11 days and comprised six phases. The settling cyprid starts by poking its antennules into the tissue of the prospective host (I: probing stage). The coral releases digestive filaments for defence, but tolerating such attack the cyprid penetrates further (II: battling stage). Ecdysis is completed 2 days after settlement (III: carapace detachment). The barnacle becomes embedded deep in the coral tissue while completing metamorphosis between 4 and 6 days (IV: embedding stage), but reappears as a feeding juvenile 8–11 days after settlement (V: emerging stage; VI: feeding stage). Cyprids preferably settle in areas between the coral polyps, where they have a much higher survival rate than on the polyp surfaces.
- Received February 14, 2016.
- Accepted May 23, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
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