Apr 25, 2020

Shifting Baselines: Repeat bleaching drives coral physiotypes through environmental legacy and cellular memory

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Christopher B WallH. Putnam

Abstract

Global climate change is altering coral reef ecosystems. Notably, marine heat waves are producing widespread coral bleaching events with increased frequency, with projections for annual bleaching events on many reefs by mid-century. The response of corals to elevated seawater temperatures is, however, influenced by a combination of environmental legacies, the biology of the host, and the resident symbiont community, each of which have the capacity to modulate resistance and resilience to environmental stress. It is critical, therefore, to evaluate the potential for shifting physiological and molecular baselines driven by these factors in back-to-back in situ bleaching (and recovery) events given the potential for mortality of corals in response to episodic bleaching episodes and increased ocean warming. Here, we use the regional bleaching events of 2014 and 2015 in the Hawaiian Islands and subsequent recovery periods to test the hypothesis that coral multivariate responses (physiotypes) differed in back-to-back bleaching events, modulated by both environmental histories and symbiotic partnerships (Symbiodiniaceaea). Bleaching severity was greater in the first-bleaching event, and concomitantly, environmental history effects wer...Continue Reading

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