Growth and population dynamic model of the reef coral Fungia granulosa Klunzinger, 1879 at Eilat, northern Red Sea

Nanette E. Chadwick-Furman, Stefano Goffredo, Yossi Loya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The lack of population dynamic information for most species of stony corals is due in part to their complicated life histories that may include fission, fusion and partial mortality of colonies, leading to an uncoupling of coral age and size. However, some reef-building corals may produce compact upright or free-living individuals in which the above processes rarely occur, or are clearly detectable. In some of these corals, individual age may be determined from size, and standard growth and population dynamic models may be applied to gain an accurate picture of their life history. We measured long-term growth rates (up to 2.5 years) of individuals of the free-living mushroom coral Fungia granulosa Klunzinger, 1879 at Eilat, northern Red Sea, and determined the size structure of a population on the shallow reef slope. We then applied growth and population models to the data to obtain estimates of coral age, mortality rate, and life expectancy in members of this species. In the field, few F. granulosa polyps suffered partial mortality of > 10% of their tissues. Thus, the majority of polyps grew isometrically and determinately, virtually ceasing growth by about 30-40 years of age. Coral ages as revealed by skeletal growth rings were similar to those estimated from a growth curve based on field data. The frequency of individuals in each age class on the reef slope decreased exponentially with coral age, indicating high mortality rates when corals were young. The maximum coral age observed in the field population (31 years) was similar to that estimated by application of a population dynamic model (30 years). Calculated rates of growth, mortality and life expectancy for F. granulosa were within the range of those known for other stony corals. Our results reveal a young, dynamic population of this species on Eilat reefs, with high turnover rates and short lifespans. Such information is important for understanding recovery of coral reefs from disturbances, and for application to the management of commercially exploited coral populations. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-218
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Volume249
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2000

Keywords

  • Fungiidae
  • Growth model
  • Mushroom coral
  • Population ecology
  • Red Sea
  • Reef management
  • Scleractinia

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