Comparing bleaching and mortality responses of hard corals between southern Kenya and the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

McClanahan, T.R., Baird, A.H., Marshall, P.A., and Toscano, M.A. (2004) Comparing bleaching and mortality responses of hard corals between southern Kenya and the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 48 (3). pp. 327-335.

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Abstract

We compared the bleaching and mortality response (BMI) of 19 common scleractinian corals to an anomalous warm-water event in 1998 to determine the degree of variation between depths, sites, and regions. Mombasa corals experienced a greater temperature anomaly than those on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) sites and this was reflected in the greater BMI response of most taxa. Comparing coral taxa in different sites at the same depth produced high correlation coefficients in the bleaching response in Kenya at 2 m (r=0.86) and GBR at 6 m depth sites (r=0.80) but less in the GBR for shallow 2 m sites (r=0.49). The pattern of taxa susceptibility was remarkably consistent between the regions. Coral taxa explained 52% of the variation in the response of colonies to bleaching between these two regions (Kenya BMI = 0.90 GBR BMI + 26; F(1,19)=18.3; p<0.001; r2=0.52). Stylophora and Pocillopora were consistently susceptible while Cyphastrea, Goniopora Galaxea and Pavona were resistant in both regions. Three taxa behaved differently between the two regions; Acropora, and branching Porites were both moderately affected on the GBR but were highly affected in Kenya while the opposite was true for Pavona. These results suggest that a colonies response to bleaching is phylogenetically constrained, emphasizing the importance of features of the host’s physiology or morphology in determining the response to thermal stress.

Item ID: 6852
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-3363
Keywords: 1998 El Nino; bleaching; climate change; sea surface temperature; stress
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2010 01:21
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9613 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas > 961303 Protected Conservation Areas in Marine Environments @ 100%
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