Genotype and local environment dynamically influence growth, disturbance response and survivorship in the threatened coral, Acropora cervicornis

Crawford Drury, Derek Manzello, Diego Lirman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The relationship between the coral genotype and the environment is an important area of research in degraded coral reef ecosystems. We used a reciprocal outplanting experiment with 930 corals representing ten genotypes on each of eight reefs to investigate the influence of genotype and the environment on growth and survivorship in the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. Coral genotype and site were strong drivers of coral growth and individual genotypes exhibited flexible, non-conserved reaction norms, complemented by ten-fold differences in growth between specific G-E combinations. Growth plasticity may diminish the influence of local adaptation, where foreign corals grew faster than native corals at their home sites. Novel combinations of environment and genotype also significantly affected disturbance response during and after the 2015 bleaching event, where these factors acted synergistically to drive variation in bleaching and recovery. Importantly, small differences in temperature stress elicit variable patterns of survivorship based on genotype and illustrate the importance of novel combinations of coral genetics and small differences between sites representing habitat refugia. In this context, acclimatization and flexibility is especially important given the long lifespan of corals coping with complex environmental change. The combined influence of site and genotype creates shortterm differences in growth and survivorship, contributing to the standing genetic variation needed for adaptation to occur over longer timescales and the recovery of degraded reefs through natural mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0174000
JournalPLoS One
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

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Anthozoa
corals
survival rate
Genotype
Reefs
genotype
Growth
Bleaching
Recovery
bleaching
reefs
Ecosystem
Ecosystems
Plasticity
Coral Reefs
Acropora cervicornis
Acclimatization
refuge habitats
coral reefs
acclimation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Genotype and local environment dynamically influence growth, disturbance response and survivorship in the threatened coral, Acropora cervicornis. / Drury, Crawford; Manzello, Derek; Lirman, Diego.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 12, No. 3, e0174000, 01.03.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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