Cumulative effects of suspended sediments, organic nutrients and temperature stress on early life history stages of the coral Acropora tenuis

Adriana Humanes, Gerard F. Ricardo, Bette L. Willis, Katharina E. Fabricius, Andrew P. Negri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Coral reproduction is vulnerable to both declining water quality and warming temperatures, with simultaneous exposures likely compounding the negative impact of each stressor. We investigated how early life processes of the coral Acropora tenuis respond to increasing levels of suspended sediments in combination with temperature or organic nutrients. Fertilization success and embryo development were more sensitive to suspended sediments than to high temperatures or nutrient enrichment, while larval development (after acquisition of cilia) and settlement success were predominantly affected by thermal stress. Fertilization success was reduced 80% by suspended sediments, and up to 24% by temperature, while the addition of nutrients to suspended sediments had no further impact. Larval survivorship was unaffected by any of these treatments. However, settlement success of larvae developing from treatment-exposed embryos was negatively affected by all three stressors (e.g. up to 55% by suspended sediments), while exposure only during later larval stages predominantly responded to temperature stress. Environmentally relevant levels of suspended sediments and temperature had the greatest impacts, affecting more processes than the combined impacts of sediments and nutrients. These results suggest that management strategies to maintain suspended sediments at low concentrations during coral spawning events will benefit coral recruitment, especially with warming climate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44101
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2017

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