Alternate Title

Luminescent Syllid (Odontosyllis spp.) Courtship Display Densities Vary Across Marine Habitats Around South Water Caye, Belize

Document Type



Bright—green luminescent clouds frequently occur at the surface of shallow waters of the Caribbean Sea. These clouds are produced by syllid polychaetes during courtship. Although temporal variation in the occurrence of these courtship displays has been documented throughout the diurnal and lunar cycle, other factors such as habitat type have not been well studied. In this study, we investigated how syllid courtship—display densities varied across 3 substrate types (grassbed, rubble and coral) over a 3 day period. In line with previous studies, we found that syllid courtship displays occurred over seagrass and rubble substrates; however, we also found that display densities were significantly higher over shallow coral substrates than over either seagrass or rubble habitats. These findings reflect published observations and newly collected observational data from other locations throughout the Caribbean. Future work across species, time and regions is required in order to better understand the factors underlying syllid display densities.

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