Coral Reefs

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 57–64

Recovery of the coral Montastrea annularis in the Florida Keys after the 1987 Caribbean “bleaching event”

  • William K. Fitt
  • Howard J. Spero
  • John Halas
  • Michael W. White
  • James W. Porter
Reports

Abstract

Many reef-building corals and other cnidarians lost photosynthetic pigments and symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) during the coral bleaching event in the Caribbean in 1987. The Florida Reef Tract included some of the first documented cases, with widespread bleaching of the massive coral Montastrea annularis beginning in late August. Phototransects at Carysfort Reef showed discoloration of >90% of colonies of this species in March 1988 compared to 0% in July 1986; however no mortality was observed between 1986 and 1988. Samples of corals collected in February and June 1988 had zooxanthellae densities ranging from 0.1 in the most lightly colored corals, to 1.6x106 cells/cm2 in the darker corals. Minimum densities increased to 0.5x106 cells/cm2 by August 1989. Chlorophyll-a content of zooxanthellae and zooxanthellar mitotic indices were significantly higher in corals with lower densities of zooxanthellae, suggesting that zooxanthellar at low densities may be more nutrientsufficient than those in unbleached corals. Ash-free dry weight of coral tissue was positively correlated with zooxanthellae density at all sample times and was significantly lower in June 1988 compared to August 1989. Proteins and lipids per cm2 were significantly higher in August 1989 than in February or June, 1988. Although recovery of zooxanthellae density and coral pigmentation to normal levels may occur in less than one year, regrowth of tissue biomass and energy stores lost during the period of low symbiont densities may take significantly longer.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Atwood DK, Sylvester JC, Corredor JE, Morell JM, Mendez A, Nodal WJ, Huss BE, Foltz C (1988) Seasurface temperature anomalies for the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Reef Track and the Bahamas considered in light of the 1987 regional coral bleaching event. Proc Assoc Is Mar Lab Carib 21: 47Google Scholar
  2. Coles SL, Jokiel PL (1978) Synergistic effects of temperature, salinity and light on the hermatypic coral Montipora verrucosa. Mar Biol 49:187–195Google Scholar
  3. Coles SL, Jokiel PL, Lewis CR (1976) Thermal tolerance in tropical versus subtropical Pacific reef corals. Pac Sci 30:159–166Google Scholar
  4. Cook CB (1990) Elevated temperatures and bleaching on a high latitude coral reef: the 1988 Bermuda event. Coral Reefs 9:45–49Google Scholar
  5. Dubois M, Gilles KA, Hamilton JK, Revers PA, Smith F (1956) Colorometric method for the determination of sugars and related substances. Anal Chem 28:350–356Google Scholar
  6. Dunlap WC, Chalker BE, Oliver JK (1986) Bathymetric adaptations of reef-building corals at Davies Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. III. UV-B absorbing compounds. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 104:239–248Google Scholar
  7. Fisk DA, Done TJ (1985) Taxonomic and bathymetric patterns of bleaching in corals, Myrmidon Reef (Queensland). Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 6:149–154Google Scholar
  8. Fitt WK (1984) The role of chemosensory behavior of Symbiodinium microadriaticum, intermediate hosts, and host behavior in the infection of coelenterates and molluscs with zooxanthellae. Mar Biol 81:9–17Google Scholar
  9. Fleischmann EM (1989) The measurement and penetration of ultraviolet radiation into tropical marine water. Limnol Oceanogr 34:1623–1629Google Scholar
  10. Folch J, Lees M, Sloane-Stanley GH (1956) A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipids from animal tissues. J Biol Chem 226:497–509Google Scholar
  11. Gates RD (1990) Seawater temperature and sublethal coral bleaching in Jamaica. Coral Reefs 8:193–197Google Scholar
  12. Glynn PW (1983) Extensive “bleaching” and death of reef corals on the Pacific coast of Panama. Environ Conserv 10:149–154Google Scholar
  13. Glynn PW (1984) Widespread coral mortality and the 1982/83 El Nino warming event. Environ Conserv 10: 133–146Google Scholar
  14. Glynn PW, Stewart RH (1973) Distribution of coral reefs in the Pearl Islands (Gulf of Panama) in relation to thermal conditions. Limnol Oceanogr 18:367–379Google Scholar
  15. Glynn QW, Perez M, Gilchrist SL (1985) Lipid decline in stressed corals and their crustacean symbionts. Biol Bull 168:276–284Google Scholar
  16. Glynn PW, Cortes J, Guzman HM, Richmond RH (1988) El Nino (1982–83) associated coral mortality and relationship to sea surface temperature deviations in the tropical eastern Pacific. Proc. 6th Int Coral Reef Symp 3:237–243Google Scholar
  17. Glynn PW, D'Croz L (1990) Experimental evidence for high temperature stress as the cause of El Nino-coincident coral mortality. Coral Reefs 8:181–191Google Scholar
  18. Goreau TF (1964) Mass expulsion of zooxanthellae from Jamaican reef communities after Hurricane Flora. Science 145:383–386Google Scholar
  19. Goreau TJ, Macfarlane AH (1990) Reduced growth rate of Montastrea annularis following the 1987–88 coral-bleaching event. Coral Reefs 8:211–215Google Scholar
  20. Harriott VJ (1985) Mortality rates of scleractinian corals before and during a mass bleaching event. Mar Ecol 21:81–88Google Scholar
  21. Hayes RL, Bush PG (1990) Microscopic observations of recovery in the reef-building scleratinian coral, Montastrea annularis, after bleaching on a Cayman reef. Coral Reefs 8:203–209Google Scholar
  22. Hoegh-Guldberg O, Smith GJ (1989) The effect of sudden changes in temperature, light and salinity on the population density and export of zooxanthellae from the reef corals Stylophora pistillata Esper and Seriatopora hystrix Dana. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 129:279–303Google Scholar
  23. Hudson HJ (1981a) Response of Montastrea annularis to environmental change in the Florida Keys. Proc 4th Int Coral Reef Symp 2:233–240Google Scholar
  24. Hudson HJ (1981b) Growth rates in Montastrea annularis: a record of environmental change in Key Largo Coral Reef Marine Sanctuary, Florida. Bull Mar Sci 31:444–459Google Scholar
  25. Jaap WC (1979) Observations on zooxanthellae expulsion at Middle Sambo Reef, Florida Keys. Bull Mar Sci 29:414–422Google Scholar
  26. Jaap WC (1985) An epidemic zooxanthellae expulsion during 1983 in the Lower Florida Keys coral reefs: hyperthermic etiology. Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 6:143–148Google Scholar
  27. Jeffrey SW, Humphrey GF (1975) New spectrophotometric equations for determining chlorophylls a, b, c1 and c2 in higher plants, algae and natural phytoplankton. Biochem Physiol Planz 167: 191–194Google Scholar
  28. Jokiel PL, Coles SL (1977) Effects of temperature on the mortality and growth of Hawaiian reef corals. Mar Biol 43:201–208Google Scholar
  29. Jokiel PL, York RHJr (1982) Solar ultraviolet photobiology of the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis and symbiotic zooxanthellae. Bull Mar Sci 32:301–315Google Scholar
  30. Jokiel PL, Coles SL (1990) Response of Hawaiian and other Indo-Pacific reef corals to elevated temperature. Coral Reefs 8:155–162Google Scholar
  31. Kleppel GS, Dodge RE, Reese CJ (1989) Changes in pigmentation associated with the bleaching of stony corals. Limnol Oceanogr 34:1331–1335Google Scholar
  32. Kinsman DJ (1964) Reef coral tolerance of high temperatures and salinities. Nature 202:1280–1282Google Scholar
  33. Knowlton N, Weil E, Weight LA, Guzman HM (1992) Sibling species in Montastrea annularis, coral bleaching, and the coral climate record. Science 255:330–333Google Scholar
  34. Lasker RL, Peters EC, Coffroth MA (1984) Bleaching of reef coelenterates in the San Blas Islands, Panama. Coral Reefs 3:183–190Google Scholar
  35. Lesser MP, Stochaj WR, Tapley DW Shick JM (1990) Bleaching in coral reef anthozoans: effects of irradiance, ultraviolet radiation, and temperature on the activities of protective enzymes against active oxygen. Coral Reefs 8:225–232Google Scholar
  36. Lowry OH, Rosenborough HJ, Farr AL, Randall RJ (1951) Protein measurement with folin phenol reagent. J Biol Chem 193:265–275Google Scholar
  37. Muscatine L, Falkowski PG, Dubinsky Z, Cook PA, McCloskey LR (1989) The effect of external nutrient resources on the population dynamics of zooxanthellae in a reef coral. Proc R Soc Lond 236:311–324Google Scholar
  38. Neudecker S (1981) Growth and survival of scleractinian corals exposed to thermal effluents at Guam. Proc 4th Int Coral Reef Symp 1:173–180Google Scholar
  39. Oliver J (1985) Recurrent seasonal bleaching and mortality of corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Proc. 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 6:201–206Google Scholar
  40. Porter JW, Battey JF, Smith GJ (1982) Perturbation and change in coral reef communities. Proc Natl Acad Sci 79:1678–1681Google Scholar
  41. Porter JW, Fitt WK, Spero HJ, Rogers CS, White MW (1989) Bleaching in reef corals: physiological and stable isotopic responses. Proc Natl Acad Sci 86:9342–9346Google Scholar
  42. Porter JW, Meier O (1992) Quantification of loss and change in Floridian reef coral population. Amer. Zool 32:625–640Google Scholar
  43. Roberts L (1990) Warm waters, bleached corals. Science 249:213Google Scholar
  44. Sandeman IM (1988) Coral bleaching at Discovery Bay Jamaica: a possible mechanism for temperature related bleaching. Proc Assoc Is Mar Lab Carib 21:50Google Scholar
  45. Savina LA (1991) Naturally occurring and laboratory induced bleaching in two Caribbean coral species. Am Zool. 31:48AGoogle Scholar
  46. Siebeck O (1988) Experimental investigation of UV tolerance in hermatypic corals (Scleractinia). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 43:95–103Google Scholar
  47. Steen GR, Muscatine L (1987) Low temperature evokes rapid exocytosis of symbiotic algae by a sea anemone. Biol Bull 172:246–263Google Scholar
  48. Szmant AM, Gassman NJ (1990) The effects of prolonged “bleaching” on the tissue biomass and reproduction of the reef coral Montasrea annularis. Coral Reefs 8:217–224Google Scholar
  49. White MW, Porter JW (1985) The establishment and monitoring of two permanent photograph transects in Looe Key and Key Largo National Marine Sanctuaries (Florida Keys). Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 6:531–537Google Scholar
  50. Williams EH, Goenaga C, Vincente V (1987) Mass bleaching on Atlantic coral reefs. Science 237:877–878Google Scholar
  51. Williams EH, Bunkley-Williams L (1988) Circumtropical coral reef bleaching in 1987–88. Proc 6th Coral Reef Symp 3:313–318Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • William K. Fitt
    • 1
  • Howard J. Spero
    • 2
  • John Halas
    • 3
  • Michael W. White
    • 3
  • James W. Porter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EcologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthens
  2. 2.Department of GeologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavis
  3. 3.Key Largo National Marine SanctuaryKey Largo

Personalised recommendations