Bleaching susceptibility of aquarium corals collected across northern Australia

Pratchett, Morgan S., Caballes, Ciemon F., Newman, Stephen J., Wilson, Shaun K., Messmer, Vanessa, and Pratchett, Deborah J. (2020) Bleaching susceptibility of aquarium corals collected across northern Australia. Coral Reefs, 39. pp. 663-673.

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Abstract There are a wide range of Scleractinian corals that are collected for the global reef aquarium market, often from non-reefal environments. The sustainability of coral harvesting is potentially threatened by increasing anthro- pogenic disturbances and climate change, though it is unknown to what extent many commonly harvested corals are susceptible to environmental change, or actually bleach during marine heatwaves. In this study, we experimentally tested the temperature sensitivity and bleaching suscepti- bility of six coral species (Homophyllia australis, Micro- mussa lordhowensis, Catalaphyllia jardinei, Trachyphyllia geoffroyi, Duncanopsammia axifuga, and Euphyllia glab- rescens), which are important components of the aquarium coral fisheries across northern Australia, in Western Aus- tralia, the Northern Territory, and/or Queensland. Inter- specific differences were evident in the temperature sensitivity and bleaching susceptibility among the study species. Homophyllia australis, and M. lordhowensis were found to be particularly susceptible to elevated temperatures, whereby all corals subjected to elevated temperatures died within the course of the experimental treatment (75 d). Catalaphyllia jardinei and E. glabrescens also exhibited significant increases in mortality when exposed to elevated temperatures, though some of the corals did survive, and C. jardinei mostly died only after exposure to elevated temperatures. The other species (T. geoffroyi and D. axifuga) exhibited marked bleaching when exposed to elevated temperatures, but mortality of these corals was similar to that of conspecifics held at ambient temperatures. This study highlights the potential for envi- ronmental change to impact the sustainability and viability of Australian coral harvest fisheries. More importantly, this study highlights the need for specific and targeted in situ monitoring for important stocks of coral fishery target species, to assess their vulnerability to fishery and fishery- independent effects.

Item ID: 63855
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: Controlled experiment, Scleractinia, Temperature, Light intensity, Survivorship
Copyright Information: (C) The Author(s) 2020. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Funders: Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Pro-Vision Reef
Projects and Grants: FRDC Project 2014-029
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2020 02:42
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 40%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300505 Fisheries management @ 10%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 60%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 40%
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