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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

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

Tries B. Razak*, George Roff, Janice M. Lough, Dudi Prayudi, Neal E. Cantin, Peter J. Mumby

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Previous studies have reported recent substantial declines in the growth rates of massive Porites 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 central Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Between 1982–2012, no significant changes in calcification or extension anomalies were observed at all study locations, 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 central Sulawesi, yet skeletal density showed a significant nonlinear change in West Papua and central GBR. Skeletal density displayed a significant positive linear relationship with SST at Palau and West Papua, whereas no relationship was observed in central Sulawesi. In central 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.