Coral Reefs

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 463–474 | Cite as

Stress response of two coral species in the Kavaratti atoll of the Lakshadweep Archipelago, India

  • Shashank Harithsa
  • Chandralata Raghukumar
  • S. G. Dalal
Report

Abstract

Frequent occurrences of coral bleaching and the ensuing damage to coral reefs have generated interest in documenting stress responses that precede bleaching. The objective of this study was to assess and compare physiological changes in healthy, semi-bleached and totally bleached colonies of two coral species, Porites lutea and Acropora formosa, during a natural bleaching event in the Lakshadweep Archipelago in the Arabian Sea to determine the traits that will be useful in the diagnosis of coral health. In April 2002, three “health conditions” were observed as “appearing healthy,” “semi-bleached” and “bleached” specimens for two dominant and co-occurring coral species in these islands. Changes in the pigment composition, zooxanthellae density (ZD), mitotic index (MI) of zooxanthellae, RNA/DNA ratios and protein profile in the two coral species showing different levels of bleaching in the field were compared to address the hypothesis of no difference in health condition between species and bleaching status. The loss in chlorophyll (chl) a, chl c and ZD in the transitional stage of semi-bleaching in the branched coral A. formosa was 80, 75 and 80%, respectively. The losses were much less in the massive coral P. lutea, being 20, 50 and 25%, respectively. The decrease in zooxanthellar density and chl a was accompanied by an increased MI of zooxanthellae and RNA/DNA ratios in both the species. There was an increase in accumulation of lipofuscin granules in partially bleached P. lutea tissue, which is an indication of cellular senescence. Multivariate statistical analyses showed that colonies of P. lutea ranked in different health conditions differed significantly in chl a, chl c, ZD, RNA/DNA ratios, and protein concentrations, whereas in A. formosa chl a, chl c, chl a/c, phaeopigments and MI contributed to the variance between health conditions.

Keywords

Lakshadweep islands Porites lutea Acropora formosa Bleaching Zooxanthellae density Mitotic index Lipofuscin granules 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shashank Harithsa
    • 1
  • Chandralata Raghukumar
    • 1
  • S. G. Dalal
    • 1
  1. 1.Biological Oceanography DivisionNational Institute of OceanographyDona PaulaIndia

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