MEPS 256:287-291 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps256287

Water flow facilitates recovery from bleaching in the coral Stylophora pistillata

T. Nakamura1, H. Yamasaki1, R. van Woesik2,*

1Laboratory of Cell and Functional Biology, Faculty of Science, University of the Ryukyus, Senbaru 1, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0213, Japan
2Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology, 150 West University Boulevard, Melbourne, Florida 32901-6975, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Exposing partially bleached samples of Stylophora pistillata coral colonies to controlled water-flow treatments revealed differential recovery rates that varied in accordance with flow rate. Recovery of the number of zooxanthellae per unit area and chlorophyll a concentrations increased rapidly in moderate-flow treatments (of 20 cm s-1), after an initial 3 wk of stasis. Colonies in low-flow treatments (≤3 cm s-1) remained pale for the entire 7 wk experimental period and showed only slight increases in zooxanthellae per unit area. In an earlier study, we showed that when corals were subjected to high temperature and high irradiance, coral bleaching occurred in low-flow but not in moderate-flow treatments; the present study shows that recovery from bleaching is facilitated by flow treatment. In combination, prevention of and rapid recovery from bleaching by enhanced water flow suggest that the mechanisms that lead to dysfunction of the algae-coral symbiosis are driven by mass-transfer-limited processes.

KEY WORDS: Corals · Bleaching · Water flow · Recovery

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