Similar thermal breadth of two temperate coral species from the Mediterranean Sea and two tropical coral species from the Great Barrier Reef

Jurriaans, Saskia, Hoogenboom, Mia O., and Ferrier-Pages, Christine (2021) Similar thermal breadth of two temperate coral species from the Mediterranean Sea and two tropical coral species from the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs, 40 (4). pp. 1281-1295.

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Abstract

Temperate organisms are generally exposed to a more variable and cooler climate than tropical organisms, and are therefore expected to have broader thermal tolerance and a different thermal performance curve. This study investigated these hypotheses by comparing the thermal performance of two common tropical coral species found in the Great Barrier Reef with the two most common temperate coral species from the Mediterranean Sea. Photosynthesis rates, dark respiration rates, maximum PSII quantum yield (Fv/Fm) and electron transport rates (rETRm) were measured on coral fragments exposed to an acute temperature increase and decrease up to 5 °C above and below the average environmental seawater temperature. Dark respiration rates and Fv/Fm increased linearly with temperature, suggesting broad thermal tolerance. For photosynthesis and rETRm, the performance breadths were surprisingly similar between the tropical and temperate species. However, the thermal optimum for performance was generally below the local average temperature, and only coincided with the prevailing environmental temperature for one of the tropical species. The broad thermal tolerance for photosynthesis displayed in this study supports previous observations that corals can survive short periods of abnormally warm temperatures and suggests that corals adopt thermal generalist strategies to cope with temperature variation in the environment. Nevertheless, current mean temperatures are 10–30% above the thermal optimum for the species studied here, demonstrating that conditions are already pushing the boundaries of coral thermal tolerance.

Item ID: 70222
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: Photosynthesis, Plasticity, Thermal acclimation, Thermal performance curves
Copyright Information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021
Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2022 23:27
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310303 Ecological physiology @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 10%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 30%
19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1905 Understanding climate change > 190599 Understanding climate change not elsewhere classified @ 30%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 40%
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