Species-specific declines in the linear extension of branching corals at a subtropical reef, Lord Howe Island

Anderson, Kristen D., Heron, Scott F., and Pratchett, Morgan S. (2015) Species-specific declines in the linear extension of branching corals at a subtropical reef, Lord Howe Island. Coral Reefs, 34 (2). pp. 479-490.

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Abstract

Reef-building corals are extremely sensitive to changing temperature regimes, such that sustained increases in ocean temperatures are generally expected to have negative effects on coral growth and survivorship. At high-latitude reefs, however, projected increases in ocean temperature may actually increase coral growth (relaxing constraints imposed by cool winter temperatures), though this will depend upon on the rate and extent of declines in aragonite saturation, which is already much lower at high latitudes. This study quantified linear extension rates of six scleractinian corals, Acropora yongei, Isopora cuneata, Pocillopora damicornis, Porites heronensis, Seriatopora hystrix, and Stylophora pistillata, at Lord Howe Island in 2010/11. Contemporary growth rates were compared to equivalent data collected in 1994/95. There was marked interspecific variation in growth rates, with A. yongei growing almost twice the rate of all other species. Temporal changes in annual growth also varied among species. Growth rates of both A. yongei and Pocillopora damicornis were 30% of that recorded in 1994/95. However, growth rates of Porites heronensis had not changed. Declines in the growth rates of these branching species may be attributable to declines in aragonite saturation or increases in summertime temperatures above limits for optimal growth, but either way it appears that climate change is having negative effects on corals, even at subtropical locations.

Item ID: 40892
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: Lord Howe Island, ocean acidification, temperature, latitudinal coral growth
Funders: Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, AIMS@JCU, James Cook University, Griffith University
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2015 22:54
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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