A study of the interactive biology of corals

Collins, John Douglas (1978) A study of the interactive biology of corals. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

The general ecology of the Magnetic Island, North Queensland, fringing reefs is described, together with the hydrological and biological effects of a tropical cyclone ('Althea', 1971) on this system. This particular cyclone allowed the mortality associated with the mechanical damage to be assessed separately from that of the reduced salinity caused by the flood rains, the effects of the reduced salinity being the most catastrophic. Interactions between coral colonies on the reef are commonplace and an analysis of these and artifically induced interactions by grafting corals have been performed.

This analysis reveals that only tissues of identical genotype will fuse and form fully integrated colonies. Tissues that are from the same species, but from different individuals, i.e. allogeneic, do not fuse, and remain mutually indifferent cytologically and morphologically. Foreign tissue interactions between different species usually show signs of rejection that vary from mild to severe, these culminating in extracoelenteric feeding aggressions, depending upon the species interacting. Histological evidence supporting morphological observations is presented, and the immunological implications are discussed.

Because of the unusual soft tissue and skeletal configuration the study of corals require a variety of histomorphological techniques to be performed. New methods of embedding and recording growth forms are described. If an embedding stage is introduced before decalcification, then distortion or separation of the tissue is minimised. By using the existing skeleton as an integrated record of past calcification, it is possible to extrapolate and interpolate future and past isochronous surfaces and in this way analyse growth allometries.

The significance of the cyclonic redistribution and destruction of coral on the reef is placed in context with the knowledge gained on the ways in which corals interact. It appears that cyclones promote interactions on the reef, and may even aid in the vegetative reproduction by fragmentation of some species. The application of the grafting techniques to coral colonies will allow the contribution made by vegetative reproduction to be assessed in population studies of maintenance and recruitment on coral reefs.

Item ID: 15841
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: coral reef ecology, corals, cyclone damage, Cyclone Althea, Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island, Acropora, Acroporidae, tropical cyclones, tissue interactions, growth
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2011 06:08
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060803 Animal Developmental and Reproductive Biology @ 34%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060808 Invertebrate Biology @ 33%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 33%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9610 Natural Hazards > 961006 Natural Hazards in Marine Environments @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 33%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 34%
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