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Effects of elevated temperature on larval settlement and post-settlement survival in scleractinian corals, Acropora solitaryensis and Favites chinensis

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We examined the effects of elevated temperature under different exposure periods on larval settlement and post-settlement survival in scleractinian corals, Acropora solitaryensis and Favites chinensis. In the first experiment with the subtropical coral, A. solitaryensis, the numbers of larvae settling and those dead were examined daily for 5 days at 20, 23 (ambient), 26 and 29°C conditions. Larval settlement of A. solitaryensis was initially greater at higher temperature conditions, but the peak in number of settled larvae shifted from 29 to 26°C by day 5, due to ca. 90% post-settlement mortality at 29°C condition. In order to determine the effects under short-term exposure, larvae of F. chinensis were exposed to 27 (ambient), 31 or 34°C only for one hour in the second experiment. The number of larvae settling for 24 h after the exposure and their survivorship over subsequent week was monitored in the ambient temperature condition. Larvae of F. chinensis exhibited greater settlement at higher temperature treatments and constantly low post-settlement mortalities (< ca. 17%) in all temperature treatments, resulting in the highest number of settled larvae at 34°C treatment. These results suggested two different effects of elevated temperature on the early stages of recruitment process of scleractinian corals; (1) the positive effect on larval settlement and (2) the negative effect on post-settlement survival under prolonged exposure.

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This study was supported in part by an Australian Research Council Large Grant to P.H. and a Southern Cross University postgraduate student grant to Y.N. We thank Dr. K Yamazato and the staff of Sesoko Station, Tropical Biosphere Research Center for their support in Okinawa. We are also grateful to Prof M. Tokeshi, Dr. J.D. Reimer and three anonymous reviewers for their comments that improved our manuscript. The experiments performed here complied with the current laws of Australia and Japan.

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Correspondence to Yoko Nozawa.

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Communicated by S. Nishida.

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Nozawa, Y., Harrison, P.L. Effects of elevated temperature on larval settlement and post-settlement survival in scleractinian corals, Acropora solitaryensis and Favites chinensis . Mar Biol 152, 1181–1185 (2007).

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