MEPS 238:81-89 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps238081

Effect of feeding on the carbon and oxygen isotopic composition in the tissues and skeleton of the zooxanthellate coral Stylophora pistillata

S. Reynaud1,*, C. Ferrier-Pagès1, R. Sambrotto2, A. Juillet-Leclerc3, J. Jaubert1, J.-P. Gattuso4

1Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Avenue Saint Martin, 98000 Principality of Monaco
2Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, 61 Rt. 9W/PO Box 1000, Palisades, New York 10964, USA
3Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l¹Environnement, Laboratoire mixte CNRS-CEA, 91180 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
4Observatoire Océanologique, Laboratoire d¹Océanographie, CNRS-UPMC, BP 28, 06234 Villefranche-sur-mer Cedex, France

ABSTRACT: The effect of feeding on the carbon isotopic composition of zooxanthellae, animal tissue and skeleton was investigated in the scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata. Two sets of corals were grown with filtered seawater under controlled conditions. One group of colonies was fed Artemia sp. nauplii and compared to a control group that was starved. Fed corals exhibited higher concentrations of chlorophyll (60% more), soluble protein (4 times more) and calcification rates (29% more) than starved colonies. The net photosynthetic rate was higher in starved than in fed corals (18.53 ± 6.99 and 6.78 ± 2.06 µmolO2 cm-2 h-1 respectively), whereas dark respiration was not significantly different (8.74 ± 2.27 and 6.66 ± 0.40 µmolO2 cm-2 h-1). The average δ13C value of Artemia sp. nauplii used for feeding was -12‰. δ13C was significantly heavier in zooxanthellae than in animal tissues, for both fed (-10.1 vs -11.7‰) and starved colonies (-10.9 vs -13.2‰). Artemia sp. carbon was incorporated into the coral tissue as shown by the heavier δ13C in fed than in starved colonies (-11.7 to -13.2‰, respectively), although there was no difference in the δ13C of the zooxanthellae fraction. Skeletal δ13C was similar in fed and starved colonies (mean -4.6‰). Skeletal δ18O composition was, however, significantly different between the 2 treatments (-4.24 to -4.05‰ for fed and starved colonies, respectively), which may have been due to differences in the calcification rates of fed and starved corals. These data are used to establish a conceptual model of the carbon flow between the various compartments of a symbiotic coral. It suggests that the skeletal δ13C is not sensitive to heterotrophic food supply.

KEY WORDS: Coral · Carbon · Oxygen · Isotopic composition · Feeding · Primary production · Respiration · Calcification

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