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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 652:49-62 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13474

Effect of temperature and feeding on carbon budgets and O2 dynamics in Pocillopora damicornis

Niclas Heidelberg Lyndby1,5,*, Jacob Boiesen Holm1, Daniel Wangpraseurt1,2,3, Renaud Grover4, Cécile Rottier4, Michael Kühl1, Christine Ferrier-Pagès4

1Marine Biological Section, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Strandpromenaden 5, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark
2Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, California 92093, USA
3Bioinspired Photonics Group, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, CB2 1EW Cambridge, UK
4Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Coral ecophysiology team, 8 quai Antoine 1er, 98000 Monaco
5Present address: Laboratory for Biological Geochemistry, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Studying carbon dynamics in the coral holobiont provides essential knowledge of nutritional strategies and is thus central to understanding coral ecophysiology. In this study, we assessed the carbon budget in Pocillopora damicornis (using H13CO3) as a function of feeding status and temperature stress. We also compared dissolved oxygen (O2) fluxes measured at the colony scale and at the polyp scale. At both scales, O2 production rates were enhanced for fed vs. unfed corals, and unfed corals exhibited higher bleaching and reduced photosynthetic activity at high temperature. Unfed corals exclusively respired autotrophically acquired carbon, while fed corals mostly respired heterotrophically acquired carbon. As a consequence, fed corals excreted on average >5 times more organic carbon than unfed corals. Photosynthate translocation was higher under thermal stress, but most of the carbon was lost via respiration and/or mucus release (42-46% and 57-75% of the fixed carbon for unfed and fed corals, respectively). Such high loss of translocated carbon, coupled to low assimilation rates in the coral tissue and symbionts, suggests that P. damicornis was nitrogen and/or phosphorus limited. Heterotrophy might thus cover a larger portion of the nutritional demand for P. damicornis than previously assumed. Our results suggest that active feeding plays a fundamental role in metabolic dynamics and bleaching susceptibility of corals.


KEY WORDS: Coral bleaching · Photobiology · 13C · Carbon dynamics · Carbon budget · Heterotrophy · Autotrophy


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Cite this article as: Lyndby NH, Holm JB, Wangpraseurt D, Grover R, Rottier C, Kühl M, Ferrier-Pagès C (2020) Effect of temperature and feeding on carbon budgets and O2 dynamics in Pocillopora damicornis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 652:49-62. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13474

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