Impact of excess and harmful radiation on energy budgets in sceractinian corals.
Using dynamic energy budget (DEB) theory, this paper explores the potential of excess and harmful radiation, notably UV, to cause changes in performance and, ultimately, bleaching in scleractinian corals for a range of ambient nitrogen and (beneficial) photosynthetically active radiation levels. Two negative impacts of radiation are considered: a reduction in the capacity of the symbiont to generate energy through photosynthesis (defined in this paper as photoinhibition); an increase in the costs for the symbiont to remain viable due to repair of damage (defined in this paper as photodamage). Model predictions indicate that although both types of impact reduce the growth potential of host and symbiont, photoinhibition predominantly affects host features, except at very low ambient nitrogen levels, under which conditions the severity of nitrogen limitation is so strong that a reduction in photosynthetic rates due to photoinhibition has minimal impact. In steady state, photoinhibition leads to a reduction in host biomass, and an increase in symbiont density, implying that photoinhibition (as defined in this paper) is unlikely to cause bleaching. In contrast, the impact of photodamage is mostly affecting symbiont features, including a decline in symbiont density. Thus, photodamage may contribute to coral bleaching. Furthermore, the model predicts that, with both photoinhibition and photodamage, an increasing ratio of harmful to beneficial radiation accelerates the suppression of growth rates of symbiont and host, implying that coral health deteriorates progressively faster with increasing harmful radiation, such as UVb.