Depth-independent phenotypic variation of massive Porites coral color morphs

Anthony, Colin J., McDermott, Grace, Lock, Colin, Miller, Therese, Bentlage, Bastian, and Raymundo, Laurie J. (2024) Depth-independent phenotypic variation of massive Porites coral color morphs. Marine Ecology, 45 (1). e12788.

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As coral reefs continue to decline due to anthropogenic stressors, community characterizations will reveal both historical selection processes and adaptive potential to environmental change. To address the potential role of color in the distribution and resilience of massive Porites corals, we surveyed the distributions of two dominant color morphs (brown and purple), and a unique intermediate state, across a depth gradient in Guam, Micronesia. We found that brown colonies dominated populations across all depths, and larger colonies had higher rates of partial tissue mortality and active disease lesions. Despite the dominance of brown colonies, both brown and purple color morphs showed a high similarity in susceptibility, as indicated by the colony sizes, the severity of partial tissue mortality, and the prevalence of active disease lesions. This is a non-intuitive result given the presence of phenotypic plasticity between color morphs, evident by an intermediate, transitionary stage between brown and purple colonies that suggests a functional divergence between one color over the other. The study also revealed the dominance of small colonies at depth, which provides some insight into the ecological impacts that may have shaped Guam's current massive Porites population size structure over the past several decades. With this, we provide foundational insight into the adaptive strategies and historical pressures that have shaped the modern massive Porites population.

Item ID: 81575
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1439-0485
Keywords: bet hedging, coral reefs, functional traits, marine ecology, phenotypic plasticity, trait maintenance
Copyright Information: © 2023 Wiley-VCH GmbH. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2024 00:39
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 80%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 20%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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