Heterotrophy mitigates the response of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula to temperature stress

TitleHeterotrophy mitigates the response of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula to temperature stress
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsAichelman H.E, Townsend J.E, Courtney T.A, Baumann J.H, Davies S.W, Castillo K.D
JournalEcology and Evolution
Date Published2016/09
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2045-7758
Accession NumberWOS:000384527200027
Keywordsastrangia-danae; bleached corals; Bleaching; cladocora-caespitosa; climate change; climate-change; co2-induced ocean acidification; coral; elevated-temperatures; growth; heterotrophy; marine ecosystems; Oculina arbuscula; scleractinian coral; temperate; thermal-stress

Anthropogenic increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration have caused global average sea surface temperature (SST) to increase by approximately 0.11 degrees C per decade between 1971 and 2010 - a trend that is projected to continue through the 21st century. A multitude of research studies have demonstrated that increased SSTs compromise the coral holobiont (cnidarian host and its symbiotic algae) by reducing both host calcification and symbiont density, among other variables. However, we still do not fully understand the role of heterotrophy in the response of the coral holobiont to elevated temperature, particularly for temperate corals. Here, we conducted a pair of independent experiments to investigate the influence of heterotrophy on the response of the temperate scleractinian coral Oculina arbuscula to thermal stress. Colonies of O.arbuscula from Radio Island, North Carolina, were exposed to four feeding treatments (zero, low, moderate, and high concentrations of newly hatched Artemia sp. nauplii) across two independent temperature experiments (average annual SST (20 degrees C) and average summer temperature (28 degrees C) for the interval 2005-2012) to quantify the effects of heterotrophy on coral skeletal growth and symbiont density. Results suggest that heterotrophy mitigated both reduced skeletal growth and decreased symbiont density observed for unfed corals reared at 28 degrees C. This study highlights the importance of heterotrophy in maintaining coral holobiont fitness under thermal stress and has important implications for the interpretation of coral response to climate change.

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