Fecundity and the demographic strategies of coral morphologies

Álvarez-Noriega, Mariana, Baird, Andrew H., Dornelas, Maria, Madin, Joshua S., Cumbo, Vivian R., and Connolly, Sean R. (2016) Fecundity and the demographic strategies of coral morphologies. Ecology, 97 (12). pp. 3485-3493.

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Abstract

Understanding species differences in demographic strategies is a fundamental goal of ecology. In scleractinian corals, colony morphology is tightly linked with many demographic traits, such as size-specific growth and morality. Here we test how well morphology predicts the colony size-fecundity relationship in eight species of broadcast-spawning corals. Variation in colony fecundity is greater among morphologies than between species with a similar morphology, demonstrating that colony morphology can be used as a quantitative proxy for demographic strategies. Additionally, we examine the relationship between size-specific colony fecundity and mechanical vulnerability (i.e., vulnerability to colony dislodgment). Interestingly, the relationship between size-specific fecundity and mechanical vulnerability varied among morphologies. For tabular species, the most fecund colonies are the most mechanically vulnerable, while the opposite is true for massive species. For corymbose and digitate colonies, mechanical vulnerability remains relatively constant as fecundity increases. These results reveal strong differences in the demographic tradeoffs among species of different morphologies. Using colony morphology as a quantitative proxy for demographic strategies can help predict coral community dynamics and responses to anthropogenic change.

Item ID: 47041
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: demographic strategies, fecundity, morphology, reef coral, tradeoff
ISSN: 1939-9170
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), European Research Council (ERC), Scotish Funding Council (SFC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FT110100609, ARC FT0990652, ARC DP0880544, ERC BioTIME 250189, SFC MASTS-HR09011
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2017 07:31
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 60%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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