, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 281-291

Coral growth in subtropical eastern Australia

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 Extension rates of corals at two sites in subtropical eastern Australia (Solitary Islands and Lord Howe Island) were measured to determine whether growth was low relative to tropical locations. Growth was measured using alizarin staining of skeletons and X-radiographic analysis, and was compared between colonies, species, and sites. Linear extension of individual Pocillopora damicornis colonies averaged 12.4 to 16.1 mm per year at Solitary Islands and Lord Howe Island respectively, which is 50% to 80% of published values for this species at tropical sites. Similarly, average extension of most massive faviid species examined at these sites was between 2.6 mm and 4.6 mm per year, considerably lower than most values reported from lower latitudes (generally 6 mm to 10 mm per year). However, growth rates of Acropora yongei, Turbinaria frondens, and Porites heronensis were close to those of closely-related taxa from the tropics. Causal links between latitude, growth rates of coral colonies, and the potential for reef accretion remain unclear.