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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 626:69-82 (2019)  -  DOI:

Long-term growth trends of massive Porites corals across a latitudinal gradient in the Indo-Pacific

Tries B. Razak1,2,*, George Roff1, Janice M. Lough3, Dudi Prayudi4, Neal E. Cantin3, Peter J. Mumby1

1Marine Spatial Ecology Lab and Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
2Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences, Universitas Padjadjaran, Jalan Raya Bandung-Sumedang Km. 21 UBR, Jatinangor, Jawa Barat 45363, Indonesia
3Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3 Townsville MC, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
4Research Centre for Geotechnology, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Jalan Sangkuriang, Kompleks LIPI, Kota Bandung, Jawa Barat 40135, Indonesia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Previous studies have reported recent substantial declines in the growth rates of massive Porites corals under warming oceans. However, the majority of these reports are from inshore reefs, and few have explored growth responses in offshore reefs from remote locations with low levels of pollution, sedimentation or nutrient loading. Here, we examined continuous growth records of massive Porites from remote locations spanning a 25° latitudinal gradient in the Indo-Pacific, including Palau, central Sulawesi, West Papua and the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Between 1982 and 2012, no significant changes in calcification or extension anomalies were observed at any study location, despite significant increases in sea surface temperature (SST) at all sites. Skeletal density increased linearly by ~0.4% yr-1 in Palau, but no change was found in Sulawesi, yet skeletal density showed a significant nonlinear change in West Papua and the GBR. Skeletal density displayed a significant positive linear relationship with SST at Palau and West Papua, whereas no relationship was observed in Sulawesi. In the GBR, skeletal density exhibited a nonlinear parabolic relationship with SST, with strong negative anomalies occurring following major thermal events. Unlike the ongoing declines in growth rates of inshore corals that have been widely reported, we found that calcification and extension anomalies of the majority of Porites from offshore remote locations do not appear to be exhibiting negative growth responses to warming SST. Our results suggest that reefs experiencing low levels of local stressors may show increased resilience to warming SST in an era of rapidly warming oceans.

KEY WORDS: Massive Porites · Coral calcification · Skeletal density · Ocean warming · Indo-Pacific · Remote reefs

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Cite this article as: Razak TB, Roff G, Lough JM, Prayudi D, Cantin NE, Mumby PJ (2019) Long-term growth trends of massive Porites corals across a latitudinal gradient in the Indo-Pacific. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 626:69-82.

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