Mechanical vulnerability explains size-dependent mortality of reef corals

Madin, Joshua S., Baird, Andrew H., Dornelas, Maria, and Connolly, Sean R. (2014) Mechanical vulnerability explains size-dependent mortality of reef corals. Ecology Letters, 17 (8). pp. 1008-1015.

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Abstract

Understanding life history and demographic variation among species within communities is a central ecological goal. Mortality schedules are especially important in ecosystems where disturbance plays a major role in structuring communities, such as coral reefs. Here, we test whether a trait-based, mechanistic model of mechanical vulnerability in corals can explain mortality schedules. Specifically, we ask whether species that become increasingly vulnerable to hydrodynamic dislodgment as they grow have bathtub-shaped mortality curves, whereas species that remain mechanically stable have decreasing mortality rates with size, as predicted by classical life history theory for reef corals. We find that size-dependent mortality is highly consistent between species with the same growth form and that the shape of size-dependent mortality for each growth form can be explained by mechanical vulnerability. Our findings highlight the feasibility of predicting assemblage-scale mortality patterns on coral reefs with trait-based approaches.

Item ID: 36076
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1461-0248
Keywords: biomechanics, colonial, demography, disturbance, life history, mortality, reef coral
Additional Information:

© 2014 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and CNRS.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), European Research Council (ERC), Scottish Funding Council (SFC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Fellowship FT110100609, ARC Fellowship FT0990652, ARC Fellowship DP0880544, ERC BioTIME 250189, SFC MASTS-HR09011
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2014 12:19
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060207 Population Ecology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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