Marine Biology

, Volume 146, Issue 4, pp 655–663 | Cite as

Effect of elevated temperature on aerobic respiration of coral recruits

Research Article


Metabolic rates provide a valuable means to assess the condition of early life stages of scleractinians, but their small biomass creates a signal-to-noise problem in a confined respirometer. To avoid this problem, measurements of the oxygen diffusion boundary layer (DBL) and Fick’s first law were used to calculate the respiration rate of coenosarc tissue on recruits (i.e., colonies 5–14 mm diameter) of Porites lutea (Edwards and Haime, 1860) exposed to two temperatures at a flow speed of 0.6 cm s−1. All experiments were completed in Moorea, French Polynesia, between November and December 2003. At 26.8°C, the DBL was 565±55 µm thick, the oxygen saturation adjacent to the tissue was 80±3%, and the mean respiration of the coenosarc was 1.2±0.1 µl O2 cm−2 h−1 (all values mean ± SE, n=10). Exposure to 29.7°C for 24–48 h did not affect the DBL thickness but significantly reduced the oxygen saturation adjacent to the tissue (to 74%) and increased the mean respiration rate by 35%. As the small corals differed slightly in size, in a uniform flow speed they experienced dissimilar flow environments as characterized by the Reynolds number (Re), thereby creating the opportunity to test the flow dependency of respiration. At 26.8°C, respiration and Re were unrelated, but at 29.7°C, the relationship was positive and statistically significant. Thus, respiration of small corals may not be mass transfer limited at low temperature, but relatively small increases in temperature may result in an increased metabolic rate leading to mass transfer limitation and flow-dependent rates of respiration.


Respiration Reef Coral Flow Speed Coral Tissue Aerobic Respiration 
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 research would have been impossible without the inspiration and theoretical framework created by M.R. Patterson. The fieldwork was supported by a grant from California State University Northridge (CSUN) and was completed under a research permit issued by the French Polynesian Ministry of Research. I would like to thank L. Allen-Requa and G. Horst for field assistance, N. Davies and the staff of the U.C. Berkeley, Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station for making my visit productive and enjoyable. A. Stangelmayer (PreSens, GmbH) generously donated electrodes that facilitated this study, and B.S.T. Helmuth generously shared ideas that assisted with interpretation of the data. L. Allen-Requa, G. Horst, R. Elahi, and R.C. Carpenter provided comments that improved an earlier draft of this paper; additional helpful comments were provided by an anonymous reviewer. This is contribution number 125 of the CSUN Marine Biology Program, and 116 of U.C. Berkeley’s Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station, Moorea, French Polynesia.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

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