Temporal and taxonomic contrasts in coral growth at Davies Reef, central Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Anderson, Kristen D., Cantin, Neal E., Heron, Scott F., Lough, Janice M., and Pratchett, Morgan S. (2018) Temporal and taxonomic contrasts in coral growth at Davies Reef, central Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Coral Reefs, 37 (2). pp. 409-421.

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Demographic processes, such as growth, can have an important influence on the population and community structure of reef-building corals. Importantly, ongoing changes in environmental conditions (e.g. ocean warming) are expected to affect coral growth, contributing to changes in the structure of coral populations and communities. This study quantified contemporary growth rates (linear extension and calcification) for the staghorn coral, Acropora muricata, at Davies Reef, central Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Growth rates were measured at three different depths (5, 10, and 15 m) over 2 yr (2012-2014) assessing both seasonal and inter-annual variability. Results of this study were compared to equivalent measurements made in 1980-1982 at the same location. To assist in understanding inter-annual variability in coral growth, we also examined annual growth bands from massive Porites providing continuous growth and records of flooding history for Davies Reef over the period 1979-2012. Linear extension rates of A. muricata were substantially (11-62%) lower in 2012-2014 compared to 1980-1982, especially at 10 and 15 m depths. These declines in growth coincide with a + 0.14 degrees C change in annual mean temperature. For massive Porites, however, calcification rates were highly variable among years and there was no discernible long-term change in growth despite sustained increases in temperature of 0.064 degrees C per decade. Apparent differences in the growth rates of Acropora between 1980-1982 and 2012-2014 may reflect inter-annual variation in coral growth (as seen for massive Porites), though it is known branching Acropora is much more sensitive to changing environmental conditions than massive corals. There are persistent issues in assessing the sensitivities of branching corals to environmental change due to limited capacity for retrospective analyses of growth, but given their disproportionate contribution to habitat complexity and reef structure, it is critical to ascertain whether there are increasing impacts on their demography.

Item ID: 53886
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: linear extension, calcification, Acropora, Porites, temperature
Copyright Information: © Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018.
Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CECRS), James Cook University (JCU), Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)
Projects and Grants: GBRMPA Science for Management Grant 9/1667(2)
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2018 07:46
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310913 Invertebrate biology @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 30%
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