We investigated the effect of solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) on the development of tropical micro- and macrofouling communities for 30 d. The experimental design involved 3 treatments: full spectrum (PAR+UVR), PAR only, and minimal light (reduced PAR and UVR). Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis demonstrated that different light conditions resulted in the formation of highly different microbial communities. The lowest densities of bacteria were found under the full spectrum treatment, while the lowest densities of diatoms were found in the minimal light treatment. Macrofouling communities consisted of 13 species and differed among light treatments. In the presence of UVR, communities had low species diversity, evenness, and richness, while in minimal light and PAR treatments, communities had high species diversity, evenness, and richness. Similarity percentage (SIMPER) analysis revealed that the tubeworm Hydroides elegans, the alga Ulva (Enteromorpha) sp., and the bivalve Perna viridis were the species responsible for most of the dissimilarities in macrofouling communities among treatments. While densities of H. elegans were similar in the PAR and minimal light treatments, this polychaete had higher growth rates under minimal light conditions. We conclude that UVR and PAR directly control the development of shallow micro- and macrofouling communities by inhibiting the recruitment and growth of sensitive species and promoting the growth of resistant species, but also that these forms of solar radiation influence the surface cues available to competent larvae by altering the development of the microbial community.
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