Coral Reefs

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 185–189

High temperatures tolerated by a diverse assemblage of shallow-water corals in American Samoa


  • P. Craig
    • National Park of American Samoa, Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799
  • C. Birkeland
    • Hawaii Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, 2538 The Mall, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
  • S. Belliveau
    • Marine Laboratory, University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam 96923

DOI: 10.1007/s003380100159

Cite this article as:
Craig, P., Birkeland, C. & Belliveau, S. Coral Reefs (2001) 20: 185. doi:10.1007/s003380100159


Corals in shallow waters are subjected to widely fluctuating temperatures on a daily basis. Using continuous temperature recordings, we examined the temperature regime in one such area, a backreef moat with low tide depths of 1–2 m on Ofu Island in American Samoa. The moat supports a high diversity of 85 coral species [H′(log2)=3.37] with 25–26% live coral coverage. In one section of the moat, a 4,000-m2 pool inhabited by 52 coral species, the mean summer temperature was 29.3 °C, but daily temperatures fluctuated up to 6.3 °C and briefly reached a peak of 34.5 °C. The duration of hot water events, e.g., ≥32 °C, averaged 2.4 h per event (maximum 5 h) and occurred on 35 summer days, although daily mean temperatures did not exceed 30.5 °C and were generally within 0.5 °C of that occurring outside the moat at an exposed coastal area. While there was a previous mortality of many acroporids during a long-term (several month) warming period in 1994, at least nine Acropora species and a diverse range of other taxa withstand the current temperature regime.

Coral Bleaching Temperature South Pacific American Samoa

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001