Coral growth patterns of Montastraea cavernosa and Porites astreoides in the Florida Keys: The importance of thermal stress and inimical waters
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Coral growth patterns of Montastraea cavernosa and Porites astreoides in the Florida Keys: The importance of thermal stress and inimical waters

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
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    The calcification and extension rates of two species of scleractinian coral (Montastraea cavernosa, Porites astreoides) were measured in corals experimentally transplanted to paired inshore and offshore locations in the Upper, Middle, and Lower Florida Keys from 2010 to 2011. Growth rates were compared with respect to 1) shelf location, 2) species, 3) region, and 4) temperature. Transplanted corals on inshore reefs generally calcified less than those at paired offshore sites, but these differences were only significant in a few cases. This difference in growth is likely because of two thermal stress events that occurred inshore, but not offshore, as growth records from cores of P. astreoides revealed significantly higher extension and calcification inshore from 2001-2013. The core data confirmed that the years 2010-2012 were a period of depressed growth inshore. Calcification and extension rates of the experimental corals were not statistically different between M. cavernosa and P. astreoides within a given site. The only exceptions were that calcification was higher in M. cavernosa at the Middle Keys inshore site. The Middle Florida Keys sites had the lowest rates of calcification, supporting the hypothesis that the influence of Florida Bay waters in this region contributes to poor reef development. Mean calcification rates negatively correlated with metrics of cold stress in M. cavernosa and heat stress in P. astreoides. The lack of a significant correlation between heat stress and mean calcification in M. cavernosa may help explain this species persistence on today's reefs. Maximum calcification and mean extension, however, were negatively correlated with maximum running 30-day mean temperature, showing that the growth of M. cavernosa is not completely insensitive to warm water stress. The 'weedy' life-history strategy of P. astreoides may compensate for the sensitivity of calcification rates to heat stress reported here, allowing this species to maintain the stable populations that have been observed throughout Florida and the wider Caribbean. Published by Elsevier B.V.
  • Source:
    Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 471(198-207.
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