AB 12:241-248 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00338

Variation in photosynthesis and respiration in ­geographically distinct populations of two reef‑building coral species

Karin E. Ulstrup1,*, Michael Kühl2,3, Madeleine J. H. van Oppen4, Timothy F. Cooper5, Peter J. Ralph3

1DHI Water & Environment, Level 2, 83 Havelock Street, West Perth, Western Australia 6005, Australia
2Marine Biological Section, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark
3Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, New South Wales 2007, Australia
4Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3 Townsville MC, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia
5Australian Institute of Marine Science, UWA Oceans Institute (M096), 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia

ABSTRACT: Studies of the regulation and importance of physiological processes such as coral photosynthesis and respiration on coral reefs require knowledge of spatio-temporal patterns of variability at different scales. Oxygen microelectrodes were used to measure photosynthesis and dark respiration of 2 corals, Pocillopora damicornis and Turbinaria reniformis, in the northern (Lizard Island) and central (Davies and Broadhurst Reefs) regions of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in winter and summer. Genetic characterisation of Symbiodinium revealed that P. damicornis hosted a single symbiont type (Symbiodinium C1) in both regions, whereas T. reniformis harboured 2 types, dependent on location. Colonies at Lizard Island harboured Symbiodinium D, whereas colonies at Davies Reef harboured Symbiodinium C2. Rates of gross photosynthesis were greater in the central than in the northern GBR in summer. A similar pattern was detected for dark respiration rates in T. reniformis. No seasonal change in either photosynthesis or dark respiration was evident in the northern GBR, possibly due to less annual variability in light conditions, and for T. reniformis, additionally the presence of Symbiodinium D. These results highlight that environmental conditions coupled with regional-scale distribution of Symbiodinium are likely to exert important influences on respiration and photosynthetic performance of reef-building corals.


KEY WORDS: Gross photosynthesis rate · O2 microelectrode · Symbiodinium · Great Barrier Reef


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Cite this article as: Ulstrup KE, Kühl M, van Oppen MJH, Cooper TF, Ralph PJ (2011) Variation in photosynthesis and respiration in ­geographically distinct populations of two reef‑building coral species. Aquat Biol 12:241-248. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00338

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