The Royal Society

Supplementary material from "Branching coral morphology affects physiological performance in the absence of colony integration"

Posted on 2022-11-24 - 08:38
For nearly 50 years, analyses of coral physiology have used small coral fragments (nubbins) to make inferences about larger colonies. However, scaling in corals shows that linear extrapolations from nubbins to whole colonies can be misleading, because polyps in nubbins are divorced of their morphologically complex and physiologically integrated corallum. We tested for the effects of integration among branches in determining size-dependent calcification of the coral Pocillopora spp. under elevated PCO2. Area-normalized net calcification was compared between branches (nubbins), aggregates of nubbins (complex morphologies without integration) and whole colonies (physiologically integrated) at 400 versus approximately 1000 µatm PCO2. Net calcification was unaffected by PCO2, but differed among colony types. Single nubbins grew faster than whole colonies, but when aggregated, nubbins changed calcification to match whole colonies even though they lacked integration among branches. Corallum morphology causes the phenotype of branching corals to differ from the summation of their branches.


Select your citation style and then place your mouse over the citation text to select it.



Usage metrics

Biology Letters


Peter J. Edmunds
Kelly W. Johnson
Scott C. Burgess


need help?