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Effect of Temperature on the Settlement Choice and Photophysiology of Larvae from the Reef Coral Stylophora pistillata

Hollie M. Putnam, Peter J. Edmunds and Tung-Yung Fan
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 215, No. 2 (Oct., 2008), pp. 135-142
DOI: 10.2307/25470694
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25470694
Page Count: 8
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Effect of Temperature on the Settlement Choice and Photophysiology of Larvae from the Reef Coral Stylophora pistillata
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Abstract

To better understand the consequences of climate change for scleractinian corals, Stylophora pistillata was used to test the effects of temperature on the settlement and physiology of coral larvae. Freshly released larvae were exposed to temperatures of 23 °C, 25 °C (ambient), and 29 °C at light intensities of ≈150 μmol photons m⁻² s⁻¹. The effects were assessed after 12 h as settlement to various substrata (including a choice between crustose coralline algae [CCA] and limestone) and as maximum quantum yield of PSII $(F_{v}/F_{m})$ in the larvae versus in their parents. Regardless of temperature, 50%-73% of the larvae metamorphosed onto the plastic of the incubation trays or in a few cases were drifting in the water, and 14% settled on limestone. However, elevated temperature (29 °C) reduced the percentage of larvae swimming by 81%, and increased the percentage choosing CCA nearly 7-fold, both relative to the outcomes at 23 °C. Because temperature did not affect settlement on limestone or plastic, increased settlement on CCA reflected temperature-mediated choices by larvae that otherwise would have remained swimming. Interestingly, $F_{v}/F_{m}$ was unaffected by temperature, but it was 4% lower in the larvae than in the parents. These results are important because they show that temperature can affect the settlement of coral larvae and because they reveal photophysiological differences between life stages that might provide insights into the events associated with larval development.

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