Growth Rates of Five Reef-Building Corals in the Northeastern Caribbean
Abstract:Growth rates (linear extension) were measured for five species of reef-building corals in three environmental zones: backreef-lagoon, shallow forereef, and base of forereef on a bank barrier reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands during periods of highest and lowest annual water temperatures. Comparison with similar studies elsewhere in the tropical western Atlantic shows some corals (e.g. Montastrea annularis) to be consistent in growth rate regardless of temperature, zone or geographic area, while other corals show differing rates of growth dependent on temperature (Acropora palmata, A. prolifera), reef zone (A. palmata) or geographic area (A. cervicornis). The range of estimated annual rates of linear growth for the five corals considered was 6.6–8.9 mm/yr for M. annularis, 3.0–3.5 mm/yr for Porites astreoides, 71 mm/yr for A. cervicornis, 59–82 mm/yr for A. prolifera, and 47–99 mm/yr for A. palmata. Calcification rate (i.e. the amount of calcium carbonate deposited per unit branch perimeter) did not differ due to temperature, but did show differences due to environmental zone in Acropora palmata, averaging 0.85 g/cm/yr in the backreef, 1.60 g/cm/yr in the shallow forereef and 1.35 g/cm/yr in the deep forereef.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: October 1, 1978
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