The degradation of coral reefs, specifically the loss of structural biomass created by coral skeletons, is an important issue in coral reef science. In this study, we give evidence for high skeletal loss in corals transplanted from a high turbidity environment to a low turbidity environment. Specifically, we show that in colonies of Acropora tenuis, significantly higher skeletal loss occurred in colonies from Geoffrey Bay (Magnetic Island, Australia, ∼8 km offshore) transplanted to Pelorus Island (Palm Islands, Australia, ∼16 km offshore), when compared to control colonies and their reciprocally transplanted counterparts. These results may suggest marked intraspecific differences in the physiological condition of coral colonies, possibly causing selective predation by corallivorous organisms, strengthening the need for detailed investigations of the underlying causes as well as the consequences of skeletal loss in an important branching species of coral, Acropora tenuis.
Skeletal loss Coral physiology Corallivory
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We thank S Noonan and the MMP team for field support; J Rizzari, J Casey, and four anonymous reviewers for helpful comments in improving this manuscript. This study was supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Grants were provided by the National Environmental Research Program and the PADI Foundation.
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