Marine Biology

, Volume 145, Issue 2, pp 323–328 | Cite as

Flesh or bone? Quantifying small-scale coral morphology using with-tissue and without-tissue techniques

  • P. A. Todd
  • R. J. Ladle
  • N. J. I. Lewin-Koh
  • L. M. Chou
Research Article


The quantification of small-scale coral morphology using tissue-free skeletons often requires colonies, or colony sections, to be removed from the reef. This undesirable destruction can be reduced by using a with-tissue technique based on photographic images of living corals. The results of this study indicate that with-tissue multivariate morphometric data contain similar information to skeleton-derived data and can help identify phenotypic plasticity in the massive coral Favia speciosa. With-tissue data can also be used to discern changes with time in individual polyps exposed to new environments.


Living Coral Coral Skeleton Canonical Discriminant Analysis Morphometric Character Oral Disc 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was funded and supported by the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore (grant number RP 3991014). The Tropical Marine Science Institute, Singapore, and the Reef Ecology Survey Team, Department of Biological Sciences, NUS, supplied greatly appreciated field assistance. Many thanks to Peta Sanderson, Roy Sidle, James Guest and Aileen Tan for their editing, discussion and support. The suggestions of three anonymous reviewers much improved the final manuscript.


  1. Amaral FD (1994) Morphological variation in the reef building coral Montastrea cavernosa in Brazil. Coral Reefs 13:113–117Google Scholar
  2. Barnes RD (1982) Invertebrate zoology. Holt-Saunders, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  3. Beltran-Torres AU, Carricart-Gavinet JP (1993) Skeletal morphologic variation in Montastrea cavernosa (Cnidaria: Scleractinia) at Isla Verde Coral Reef, Veracruz, Mexico. Rev Biol Trop 41:559–562Google Scholar
  4. Brakel WH (1977) Corallite variation in Porites and the species problem in corals. In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Coral Reef Symposium, vol 1, pp 457–462Google Scholar
  5. Bruno JF, Edmunds PJ (1997) Clonal variation for phenotypic plasticity in the coral Madracis mirabilis. Ecology 78:2177–2190Google Scholar
  6. Bythell JC, Pan P, Lee J (2001) Three-dimensional morphometric measurements of reef corals using underwater photogrammetry techniques. Coral Reefs 20:193–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carleton JH, Done TJ (1995) Quantitative video sampling of coral reef benthos: large-scale application. Coral Reefs 14:35–46Google Scholar
  8. Dodge RE (1982) Effects of drilling mud on the reef-building coral Montastrea annularis. Mar Biol 71:141–147Google Scholar
  9. Done TJ (1981) Photogrammetry in coral ecology: a technique for the study of change in coral communities. In: Proceedings of the 4th International Coral Reef Symposium, vol 2, pp 315–320Google Scholar
  10. Dove SG, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Ranganathan S (2001) Major colour patterns of reef-building corals are due to family of GFP-like proteins. Coral Reefs 19:197–204Google Scholar
  11. Dustan P (1975) Growth and form in the reef-building coral Montastrea annularis. Mar Biol 33:101–107Google Scholar
  12. Foster AB (1977) Patterns of small-scale variation of skeletal morphology within the scleractinian corals, Montastrea annularis and Siderastrea siderea. In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Coral Reef Symposium, vol 2, pp 409–415Google Scholar
  13. Foster AB (1979) Phenotypic plasticity in the reef corals Montastrea annularis and Siderastrea siderea. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 39:25–54Google Scholar
  14. Foster MS, Harrold C, Hardin DD (1991) Point vs photo quadrat estimates of the cover of sessile marine organisms. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 146:193–203Google Scholar
  15. Gleason DF (1993) Differential effects of ultraviolet radiation on green and brown morphs of the Caribbean coral Porites astreoides. Limnol Oceanogr 38:1452–1463Google Scholar
  16. Graus RR, Macintyre IG (1982) Variation in the growth forms of the reef coral Montastrea annularis (Ellis and Solander): a quantitative examination of growth response to light distribution using computer simulation. Smithson Contrib Mar Sci 12:441–464Google Scholar
  17. Hughes TP, Connell HC (1987) Population dynamics based on size or age? A reef-coral analysis. Am Nat 129:818–829CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jokiel PL (1980) Solar ultra-violet radiation and coral reef epifauna. Science 207:1069–1071Google Scholar
  19. Lang JC (1984) Whatever works: the variable importance of skeletal and of non-skeletal characters in scleractinian taxonomy. Palaeontogr Am 54:18–45Google Scholar
  20. Lasker HR (1981) Phenotypic variation in the coral Montastrea cavernosa and its effects on colony energetics. Biol Bull 160:292–302Google Scholar
  21. Low JKY, Chou LM (1994) Sedimentation rates in Singapore waters. In: Wilkinson CR, Sudara S, Chou LM (eds) Proceedings of the 3rd ASEAN-Australian Symposium on Living Coral Resources. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia, pp 697–701Google Scholar
  22. Manica A, Carter RW (2000) Morphological and fluorescence analysis of the Montastrea annularis complex. Mar Biol 137:899–906CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Miller KJ (1994) Morphological variation in the coral genus Platygyra: environmental influences and taxonomic implications. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 110:19–28Google Scholar
  24. Nagelkerken I, Bak RPM (1998) Differential regeneration of artificial lesions among sympatric morphs of the Caribbean corals Porites astreoides and Stephanocoenia michelinii. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 163:279–283Google Scholar
  25. Oren U, Benayahu Y, Loya Y (1997) Effect of lesion size and shape on regeneration of the Red Sea coral Favia favus. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 146:101–107Google Scholar
  26. Porter JW, Meier OW (1992) Quantification of loss and change in Floridian reef coral populations. Am Zool 32:625–640Google Scholar
  27. Rose CS, Risk MJ (1985) Increase in Cliona-Delitrix infestation of Montastrea cavernosa heads on an organically polluted portion of the Grand Cayman fringing reef. Mar Ecol PSZN 6:345–363Google Scholar
  28. Spalding MD, Ravilious C, Green EP (2001) World atlas of coral reefs. UNEP-WCMC and the University of California Press, BerkleyGoogle Scholar
  29. Todd PA, Sanderson PG, Chou LM (2001a) Photographic technique for the study of coral morphometrics. Raff Bull Zool 49:191–195Google Scholar
  30. Todd PA, Sanderson PG, Chou LM (2001b) Morphological variation in the polyps of the scleractinian coral Favia speciosa (Dana) around Singapore. Hydrobiologia 444:227–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Todd PA, Sidle RC, Chou LM (2002a) Plastic corals from Singapore. 1. Coral Reefs 21:407–408Google Scholar
  32. Todd PA, Sidle RC, Chou LM (2002b) Plastic corals from Singapore. 2. Coral Reefs 21:391–392Google Scholar
  33. Veron JEN (2000) Corals of the world. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  34. Weil E (1992) Genetic and morphological variation in Caribbean and Eastern Pacific Porites (Anthozoa, Scleractinia). Preliminary results. Proceedings of the 7th International Coral Reef Symposium, vol 2, pp 643–655Google Scholar
  35. West JM, Harvell CD, Walls AM (1993) Morphological plasticity in a gorgonian coral (Briareum asbestinum) over a depth cline. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 94:61–69Google Scholar
  36. Wijsman-Best M (1974) Habitat-induced modification of reef corals (Faviidae) and its consequences for taxonomy. Proceedings of the 2nd International Coral Reef Symposium, vol 2, pp 217–228Google Scholar
  37. Willis BL (1985) Phenotypic plasticity versus phenotypic stability in the reef corals Turbinaria mesenterina and Pavona cactus. Proceedings of the 5th International Coral Reef Symposium, pp 107–112Google Scholar
  38. Wood WF (1987) Effect of solar ultra-violet radiation on the kelp Ecklonia radiata. Mar Biol 96:143–150Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. A. Todd
    • 1
  • R. J. Ladle
    • 2
  • N. J. I. Lewin-Koh
    • 3
  • L. M. Chou
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Life SciencesNapier UniversityEdinburghUK
  2. 2.School of Geography and EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Department of Statistics and Applied ProbabilityNational University of SingaporeSingapore
  4. 4.Department of BiologyNational University of SingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations