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Is parental investment equal? The influence of parental feeding upon coral planulae fitness under thermal stress
Is parental investment equal? The influence of parental feeding upon coral planulae fitness under thermal stress
Submitted on 26 Apr 2017

Jessica Bellworthy; Maoz Fine
Bar Ilan University; Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat
This poster was presented at EPSCon, Weizman Institute, Israel
Poster Views: 413
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Poster Abstract
The impact of sea surface temperature rise on corals largely depends upon heritable species adaptation. Heterotrophy has been shown to increase corals' tolerance to thermal stress and is a parameter which may potentially alter alongside climate change. However the link between health, parental investment, and offspring fitness is not well understood in corals. Adult corals from the Gulf of Aqaba show relatively strong resistance to experimental thermal stress but the thermal tolerance of their planulae (larvae) and the effect of feeding on offspring investment has not been investigated.

Mature colonies of Stylophora pistillata, a dominant reef-building coral from the Gulf of Aqaba, were either fed twice weekly or starved for five months duringgametogenesis. Total protein content of the parental coral host was significantly elevated in fed (0.524 ± 0.025 mg protein /cm2) compared to unfed colonies (0.272 ± 0.016 mg protein /cm2), but this difference was not transferred to planulae. Although planulae output was over three times greater from fed colonies during the collection period, planulae from unfed colonies had significantly higher chlorophyll a/ algal cell and higher photosynthetic efficiency. However, total mortality was higher in planulae from unfed corals and time to settlement was significantly reduced at thermal extremes (3°C below and 6°C above ambient). Taken together, these results imply that planulae from starved colonies are greater prepared for autotrophy but lack the energetic parental investment to survive at extreme temperatures. Therefore enhanced parental heterotrophy may potentially play a significant role in elevating recruitment and thereby reef persistence in the face of climate change.

Connolly, S.R., Lopez-Yglesias, M.A., Anthony, K.R.N., (2012) Food availability promotes rapid recovery from thermal stress in a scleractinian coral. Coral Reefs 31: 951 – 960
Grottoli, A.G., Rodrigues, L.J., Palardy, J.E., (2006) Heterotrophic plasticity and resilience in bleached corals. Nature 440: 1186 - 1189
Putnam, H., Gates, R.D., (2015) Preconditioning in the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis and the potential for trans-generational acclimatization in coral larvae under future climate change conditions. Journal of Experimental Biology 218: 2365 - 2372
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