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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011, Article ID 185890, 12 pages
Research Article

Tradeoffs to Thermal Acclimation: Energetics and Reproduction of a Reef Coral with Heat Tolerant Symbiodinium Type-D

1Central Queensland University, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, QLD 4702, Australia
2Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3, Townsville Mail Centre, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia

Received 9 November 2010; Revised 17 February 2011; Accepted 7 March 2011

Academic Editor: Horst Felbeck

Copyright © 2011 Alison M. Jones and Ray Berkelmans. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The photo-physiological characteristics of thermo-tolerant Symbiodinium types have been postulated to have negative effects on the energetics of the reef corals by reducing fitness. To investigate this, two key and inextricably coupled indicators of fitness, lipids and reproduction, were monitored in colonies of the broadcast-spawning coral Acropora millepora over a two-year period that included a natural bleaching event. In the absence of bleaching ITS1-type clade D predominant colonies had 26% lower stored lipids compared to C2 colonies. At spawning time, this correlated with 28% smaller eggs in type-D colonies. This energetic disparity is expected to have reduced larval duration and settlement-competency periods in type-D compared to type-C2 colonies. More importantly, irrespective of the effect of genotype, the fitness of all corals was adversely affected by the stress of the bleaching event which reduced prespawning lipids by 60% and halved the number of eggs compared to the previous year. Our results extend work that has shown that direct temperature stress and symbiont change are likely to work in concert on corals by demonstrating that the lipids and reproduction of the reef building corals on tropical reefs are likely to be impaired by these processes as our climate warms.