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  1. Abstract

    Coral reefs are declining worldwide, yet some coral populations are better adapted to withstand reductions in pH and the rising frequency of marine heatwaves. The nearshore reef habitats of Palau, Micronesia are a proxy for a future of warmer, more acidic oceans. Coral populations in these habitats can resist, and recover from, episodes of thermal stress better than offshore conspecifics. To explore the physiological basis of this tolerance, we compared tissue biomass (ash-free dry weight cm−2), energy reserves (i.e., protein, total lipid, carbohydrate content), and several important lipid classes in six coral species living in both offshore and nearshore environments. In contrast to expectations, a trend emerged of many nearshore colonies exhibiting lower biomass and energy reserves than colonies from offshore sites, which may be explained by the increased metabolic demand of living in a warmer, acidic, environment. Despite hosting different dinoflagellate symbiont species and having access to contrasting prey abundances, total lipid and lipid class compositions were similar in colonies from each habitat. Ultimately, while the regulation of colony biomass and energy reserves may be influenced by factors, including the identity of the resident symbiont, kind of food consumed, and host genetic attributes, these independent processes converged tomore »a similar homeostatic set point under different environmental conditions.

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  2. Coral reefs are among the most diverse and complex ecosystems in the world that provide important ecological and economical services. Increases in sea surface temperature linked to global climate change threatens these ecosystems by inducing coral bleaching. However, it is not fully known if natural intra- or inter-annual physiological variability is linked to bleaching resilience or recovery capacity of corals. Here, we monitored the coral physiology of three common Caribbean species ( Porites divaricata, Porites astreoides, Orbicella faveolata ) at six time points over 2 years by measuring the following traits: calcification, biomass, lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, chlorophyll a , algal endosymbiont density, stable carbon isotopes of the host and endosymbiotic algae, and the stable carbon and oxygen isotopes of the skeleton. The overall physiological profile of all three species varied over time and that of P. divaricata was consistently different from the two other coral species. Porites divaricata had higher energy reserves coupled with higher contributions of heterotrophically derived carbon to host tissues than both P. astreoides and O. faveolata . Consistently higher overall energy reserves and heterotrophic contributions to tissues appear to buffer against environmental stress, including bleaching events. Thus, natural physiological variability among coral species appears to bemore »a stronger predictor of coral bleaching resilience than intra- or inter-annual physiological variability within a coral species.« less
  3. Anil, Arga Chandrashekar (Ed.)
    There is little information on the impacts of climate change on resource partitioning for mixotrophic phytoplankton. Here, we investigated the hypothesis that light interacts with temperature and CO 2 to affect changes in growth and cellular carbon and nitrogen content of the mixotrophic dinoflagellate, Karlodinium veneficum , with increasing cellular carbon and nitrogen content under low light conditions and increased growth under high light conditions. Using a multifactorial design, the interactive effects of light, temperature and CO 2 were investigated on K . veneficum at ambient temperature and CO 2 levels (25°C, 375 ppm), high temperature (30°C, 375 ppm CO 2 ), high CO 2 (30°C, 750 ppm CO 2 ), or a combination of both high temperature and CO 2 (30°C, 750 ppm CO 2 ) at low light intensities (LL: 70 μmol photons m -2 s -2 ) and light-saturated conditions (HL: 140 μmol photons m -2 s -2 ). Results revealed significant interactions between light and temperature for all parameters. Growth rates were not significantly different among LL treatments, but increased significantly with temperature or a combination of elevated temperature and CO 2 under HL compared to ambient conditions. Particulate carbon and nitrogen content increased in responsemore »to temperature or a combination of elevated temperature and CO 2 under LL conditions, but significantly decreased in HL cultures exposed to elevated temperature and/or CO 2 compared to ambient conditions at HL. Significant increases in C:N ratios were observed only in the combined treatment under LL, suggesting a synergistic effect of temperature and CO 2 on carbon assimilation, while increases in C:N under HL were driven only by an increase in CO 2 . Results indicate light-driven variations in growth and nutrient acquisition strategies for K . veneficum that may benefit this species under anticipated climate change conditions (elevated light, temperature and p CO 2 ) while also affecting trophic transfer efficiency during blooms of this species.« less
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 27, 2023