Recent research suggests that prior exposure of several months to elevated irradiance induces enhanced thermal tolerance in scleractinian corals. While this tolerance has been reported at the species level, individual coral colonies may react differently due to individual variability in thermal tolerance. As thermal anomalies are predicted to become common in the upcoming future, intraspecific variation may be key to the survival of coral populations. In order to study light-history based thermal stress responses on individual colonies, we developed a preliminary microcosm experiment where three randomly chosen, aquacultured colonies of the model coral Stylophora pistillata were exposed to two irradiance treatments (200 and 400 mmol photons m-2 s-1) for 31 days, followed by artificially induced heat stress (ã33.4°C). We found different responses to occur at both the intraspecific and the intracolonial levels, as indicated by either equal, less severe, delayed, and/or even non-necrotic responses of corals previously exposed to the irradiance of 400 compared to 200 μmol photons m-2 s-1. In addition, all individual colonies revealed lightenhanced calcification. Finally, elevated irradiance resulted in a lower chlorophyll a concentration in one colony compared to the control treatment, and the same colony displayed more rapid bleaching compared to the other ones. Taken together, this study highlights the potential importance of intra-individual variability in physiological responses of scleractinian corals and provides recommendations for improving methodological designs for future studies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)