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Allometric growth in reef-building corals

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Abstract

Predicting demographic rates is a critical part of forecasting the future of ecosystems under global change. Here, we test if growth rates can be predicted from morphological traits for a highly diverse group of colonial symbiotic organisms: scleractinian corals. We ask whether growth is isometric or allometric among corals, and whether most variation in coral growth rates occurs at the level of the species or morphological group. We estimate growth as change in planar area for 11 species, across five morphological groups and over 5 years. We show that coral growth rates are best predicted from colony size and morphology rather than species. Coral size follows a power scaling law with a constant exponent of 0.91. Despite being colonial organisms, corals have consistent allometric scaling in growth. This consistency simplifies the task of projecting community responses to disturbance and climate change.

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Original languageEnglish
Article number20170053
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume284
Issue number1851
Early online date22 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2017

    Research areas

  • Allometry, Morphology, Scaling, Scleractinia, Traits

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