Effect of sub-lethal damage to juvenile colonies of massive Porites spp. under contrasting regimes of temperature and water flow
In this study, juvenile colonies of massive Porites spp. (a combination of P. lutea and P. lobata) from the lagoon of Moorea (W 149A degrees 50', S 17A degrees 30') were damaged and exposed to contrasting conditions of temperature and flow to evaluate how damage and abiotic conditions interact to affect growth, physiological performance, and recovery. The experiment was conducted in April and May 2008 and consisted of two treatments in which corals were either undamaged (controls) or damaged through gouging of tissue and skeleton in a discrete spot mimicking the effects of corallivorous fishes that utilize an excavating feeding mode. The two groups of corals were incubated for 10 days in microcosms that crossed levels of temperature (26.7 and 29.6A degrees C) and flow (6 and 21 cm s(-1)), and the response assessed as overall colony growth (change in weight), dark-adapted quantum yield of PSII (F (v)/F (m)), and healing of the gouged areas. The influence of damage on growth was affected by temperature, but not by flow. When averaged across flow treatments, damage promoted growth by 25% at 26.7A degrees C, but caused a 25% inhibition at 29.6A degrees C. The damage also affected F (v)/F (m) in a pattern that differed between flow speeds, with a 10% reduction at 6 cm s(-1), but a 4% increase at 21 cm s(-1). Regardless of damage, F (v)/F (m) at 21 cm s(-1) was 11% lower at 26.7A degrees C than at 29.6A degrees C, but was unaffected by temperature at 6 cm s(-1). The lesions declined in area at similar rates (4-5% day(-1)) under all conditions, although the tissue within them regained a normal appearance most rapidly at 26.7A degrees C and 6 cm s(-1). These findings show that the response of poritid corals to sub-lethal damage is dependent partly on abiotic conditions, and they are consistent with the hypothesis that following damage, calcification and photosynthesis can compete for metabolites necessary for repair, with the outcome affected by flow-mediated mass transfer. These results may shed light upon the ways in which poritid corals respond to biting by certain corallivorous fishes.