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
  • C. Birkeland
  • S. Belliveau

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Craig
    • 1
  • C. Birkeland
    • 2
  • S. Belliveau
    • 3
  1. 1.National Park of American Samoa, Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799USA
  2. 2.Hawaii Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, 2538 The Mall, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822USA
  3. 3.Marine Laboratory, University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam 96923USA