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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Microsensor measuring oxygen production at the base of a single polyp of Pocillopora damicornis. Photo: Niclas H. Lyndby

Lyndby NH, Holm JB, Wangpraseurt D, Ferrier-Pagès C, Kühl M


Bio-optical properties and radiative energy budgets in fed and unfed scleractinian corals (Pocillopora sp.) during thermal bleaching


Corals are mixotrophic organisms that can feed both on plankton prey (heterotrophy) and through the transfer of photosynthates produced by their dinoflagellate symbionts (autotrophy). This dual nutrition explains their success in oligotrophic environments. However, corals face an uncertain future due to anthropogenic heat stress, which in severe cases breaks the symbiosis and leads to the death of entire reefs in tropical regions. Lyndby and colleagues investigated how such climate stressors affect the energy efficiency of corals depending on their heterotrophic state. By establishing radiative energy budgets using microsensors, their results indicate that heterotrophy increases photosynthetic energy efficiency of corals maintained in ambient condition but also prolongs bleaching threshold and increases thermal tolerance compared to unfed corals.


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