Coral Reefs

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1133–1143 | Cite as

Variability in skeletal bulk densities of common hard corals in Southeast Asia

  • Chin Soon Lionel NgEmail author
  • Jia Xuan Lim
  • Shu Qin Sam
  • Yuichi Preslie Kikuzawa
  • Tai Chong Toh
  • Teck Wei Wee
  • Wan Ting Sim
  • Ngan Kee Ng
  • Danwei Huang
  • Loke Ming Chou


Skeletal density, a measure of a coral’s investment in its structure and a known proxy for climate history, can potentially be used to enhance the precision of reef accretion models and benefit reef management strategies. However, trait data and an understanding of how it may vary are limited, especially for Southeast Asia’s coral reefs where information is available for only a few species. To fill this knowledge gap, we quantified the skeletal densities of 11 common species from four reefs in Singapore. Skeletal density was best explained by a model that included species, depth, colony size, sedimentation rate, water motion, as well as an interaction between depth and colony size. Mean skeletal densities ranged from 0.99 to 2.01 g cm−3, and species with massive growth forms (e.g. Platygyra sinensis) were least dense, while a branching coral (Pocillopora acuta) was densest. Skeletal density was influenced positively by water motion and negatively by sedimentation and colony size. The depth–size interaction also indicated that large colonies in deeper areas were denser compared to shallow colonies. Our findings suggest that environmental conditions at local scales play important roles in affecting coral skeletal density and provide an indication of the relative vulnerability among taxa and locations to physical disturbances. The need for baseline information on the skeletal properties of more species is further underscored if habitat conservation is to be effective in a changing climate.


Calcification Conservation Reef management Scleractinia Traits 



We would like to thank Toh Kok Ben and Samuel Chan for their helpful suggestions and anonymous reviewers for their valuable inputs. This research was supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (R-347-002-215-490) and the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore under its Marine Science R&D Programme (MSRDP-P03). Sample collection was carried out via the permit NP/RP16-156.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

338_2019_1852_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.8 mb)
Supplementary file1 (DOCX 1798 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chin Soon Lionel Ng
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jia Xuan Lim
    • 1
  • Shu Qin Sam
    • 2
  • Yuichi Preslie Kikuzawa
    • 2
  • Tai Chong Toh
    • 2
    • 3
  • Teck Wei Wee
    • 2
  • Wan Ting Sim
    • 2
  • Ngan Kee Ng
    • 1
  • Danwei Huang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Loke Ming Chou
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Tropical Marine Science InstituteNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.College of Alice and Peter TanNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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