Interactions among chronic and acute impacts on coral recruits

The importance of size-escape thresholds

Christopher Doropoulos, Selina Ward, Alyssa Marshell, Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, Peter J. Mumby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Newly settled recruits typically suffer high mortality from disturbances, but rapid growth reduces their mortality once size-escape thresholds are attained. Ocean acidification (OA) reduces the growth of recruiting benthic invertebrates, yet no direct effects on survivorship have been demonstrated. We tested whether the reduced growth of coral recruits caused by OA would increase their mortality by prolonging their vulnerability to an acute disturbance: fish herbivory on surrounding algal turf. After two months' growth in ambient or elevated CO2 levels, the linear extension and calcification of coral (Acropora millepora) recruits decreased as CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) increased. When recruits were subjected to incidental fish grazing, their mortality was inversely size dependent. However, we also found an additive effect of pCO2 such that recruit mortality was higher under elevated pCO2 irrespective of size. Compared to ambient conditions, coral recruits needed to double their size at the highest pCO2to escape incidental grazing mortality. This general trend was observed with three groups of predators (blenny, surgeonfish, and parrotfish), although the magnitude of the fish treatment varied among species. Our study demonstrates the importance of size-escape thresholds in early recruit survival and how OA can shift these thresholds, potentially intensifying population bottlenecks in benthic invertebrate recruitment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2131-2138
Number of pages8
JournalEcology
Volume93
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

Fingerprint

corals
coral
mortality
fish
grazing
invertebrate
invertebrates
Acropora millepora
Acanthuridae
Scaridae
disturbance
population bottleneck
calcification
lawns and turf
partial pressure
survivorship
additive effect
herbivory
vulnerability
herbivores

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Coral
  • Herbivory
  • Ocean acidification
  • Recruitment
  • Size-escape threshold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Doropoulos, C., Ward, S., Marshell, A., Diaz-Pulido, G., & Mumby, P. J. (2012). Interactions among chronic and acute impacts on coral recruits: The importance of size-escape thresholds. Ecology, 93(10), 2131-2138.

Interactions among chronic and acute impacts on coral recruits : The importance of size-escape thresholds. / Doropoulos, Christopher; Ward, Selina; Marshell, Alyssa; Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo; Mumby, Peter J.

In: Ecology, Vol. 93, No. 10, 10.2012, p. 2131-2138.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Doropoulos, C, Ward, S, Marshell, A, Diaz-Pulido, G & Mumby, PJ 2012, 'Interactions among chronic and acute impacts on coral recruits: The importance of size-escape thresholds', Ecology, vol. 93, no. 10, pp. 2131-2138.
Doropoulos, Christopher ; Ward, Selina ; Marshell, Alyssa ; Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo ; Mumby, Peter J. / Interactions among chronic and acute impacts on coral recruits : The importance of size-escape thresholds. In: Ecology. 2012 ; Vol. 93, No. 10. pp. 2131-2138.
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