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Creators/Authors contains: "Rotjan, Randi D."

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  1. Abstract

    Ocean warming is causing declines of coral reefs globally, raising critical questions about the potential for corals to adapt. In the central equatorial Pacific, reefs persisting through recurrent El Niño heatwaves hold important clues. Using an 18‐year record of coral cover spanning three major bleaching events, we show that the impact of thermal stress on coral mortality within the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) has lessened over time. Disproportionate survival of extreme thermal stress during the 2009–2010 and 2015–2016 heatwaves, relative to that in 2002–2003, suggests that selective mortality through successive heatwaves may help shape coral community responses to future warming. Identifying and facilitating the conditions under which coral survival and recovery can keep pace with rates of warming are essential first steps toward successful stewardship of coral reefs under 21st century climate change.

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  2. Abstract

    For animals that harbor photosynthetic symbionts within their tissues, such as corals, the different relative contributions of autotrophy versus heterotrophy to organismal energetic requirements have direct impacts on fitness. This is especially true for facultatively symbiotic corals, where the balance between host‐caught and symbiont‐produced energy can be altered substantially to meet the variable demands of a shifting environment. In this study, we utilized a temperate coral–algal system (the northern star coral,Astrangia poculata,and its photosynthetic endosymbiont,Symbiodinium psygmophilum) to explore the impacts of nutritional sourcing on the host's health and ability to regenerate experimentally excised polyps. For fed and starved colonies, wound healing and total colony tissue cover were differentially impacted by heterotrophy versus autotrophy. There was an additive impact of positive nutritional and symbiotic states on a coral's ability to initiate healing, but a greater influence of symbiont state on the recovery of lost tissue at the lesion site and complete polyp regeneration. On the other hand, regardless of symbiont state, fed corals maintained a higher overall colony tissue cover, which also enabled more active host behavior (polyp extension) and endosymbiont behavior (photosynthetic ability ofSymbiondinium). Overall, we determined that the impact of nutritional state and symbiotic state varied between biological functions, suggesting a diversity in energetic sourcing for each of these processes.

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