Variation in coral photosynthesis, respiration and growth characteristics in contrasting light microhabitats: an analogue to plants in forest gaps and understoreys?

Anthony, K.R.N., and Hoegh-Guldberg, O. (2003) Variation in coral photosynthesis, respiration and growth characteristics in contrasting light microhabitats: an analogue to plants in forest gaps and understoreys? Functional Ecology, 17 (2). pp. 246-259.

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Abstract

1.The often complex architecture of coral reefs forms a diversity of light microhabitats. Analogous to patterns in forest plants, light variation may drive strategies for efficient light utilization and metabolism in corals.

2.We investigated the spatial distribution of light regimes in a spur-and-groove reef environment and examine the photophysiology of the coral Montipora monasteriata (Forskål 1775), a species with a wide habitat distribution. Specifically, we examined the variation in tissue and skeletal thickness, and photosynthetic and metabolic responses among contrasting light microhabitats.

3.Daily irradiances reaching corals in caves and under overhangs were 1–5 and 30–40% of those in open habitats at similar depth (3–5 m), respectively. Daily rates of net photosynthesis of corals in cave habitats approximated zero, suggesting more than two orders of magnitude variation in scope for growth across habitats.

4.Three mechanisms of photoadaptation or acclimation were observed in cave and overhang habitats: (1) a 20–50% thinner tissue layer and 40–60% thinner skeletal plates, maximizing light interception per unit mass; (2) a two- to threefold higher photosynthetic efficiency per unit biomass; and (3) low rates of dark respiration.

5.Specimens from open and cave habitats displayed a high capacity to acclimate to downshifts or upshifts in irradiance, respectively. However, specimens in caves displayed limited acclimation to further irradiance reduction, indicating that these live near their irradiance limit.

6.Analogous to patterns for some plant species in forest gaps, the morphological plasticity and physiological flexibility of M. monasteriata enable it to occupy light habitats that vary by more than two orders of magnitude.

Item ID: 1468
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: energy balance, photoacclimation, reef coral, spur-and-groove
ISSN: 1365-2435
Date Deposited: 31 May 2007
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 69
Downloads: Total: 2
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