Variation in the health and biochemical condition of the coral Acropora tenuis along two water quality gradients on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Rocker, Melissa M., Francis, David S., Fabricius, Katharina E., Willis, Bette L., and Bay, Line K. (2017) Variation in the health and biochemical condition of the coral Acropora tenuis along two water quality gradients on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 119 (2). pp. 106-119.

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Abstract

This study explores how plasticity in biochemical attributes, used as indicators of health and condition, enables the coral Acropora tenuis to respond to differing water quality regimes in inshore regions of the Great Barrier Reef. Health attributes were monitored along a strong and weak water quality gradient, each with three reefs at increasing distances from a major river source. Attributes differed significantly only along the strong gradient; corals grew fastest, had the least dense skeletons, highest symbiont densities and highest lipid concentrations closest to the river mouth, where water quality was poorest. High nutrient and particulate loads were only detrimental to skeletal density, which decreased as linear extension increased, highlighting a trade-off. Our study underscores the importance of assessing multiple health attributes in coral reef monitoring. For example, autotrophic indices are poor indicators of coral health and condition, but improve when combined with attributes like lipid content and biomass.

Item ID: 50748
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-3363
Keywords: Acropora rands, coral health, environmental drivers, water quality, inshore reefs, Great Barrier Reef
Funders: Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Australian Government's National Environmental Research Program (NERP), PADI Grant Foundation, Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CE)
Projects and Grants: NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub, ARC-CE grant no. CE0561435 (2012-2013), ARC-CE grant no. CE140100020 (2014-2016)
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 11:35
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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