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Spatial variation in porosity and skeletal element characteristics in apical tips of the branching coral Acropora pulchra (Brook 1891)

Abstract

Micro-CT scanning techniques were used to investigate fine-scale variation in porosity along branch tips of Acropora pulchra. Porosity variation is a result of progressive thickening of skeletal elements away from the apical tip of branches, rather than changes in the spacing of skeletal elements. A linear fit was found to describe the relationship between distance along the tip and both porosity and skeletal thickness. The slope of the line obtained may relate to branch extension rates and allow retrospective data to be obtained from Acropora specimens. Skeletal morphology examined by 2D and 3D imaging shows a progressive gradation in thickness occurring in the axial corallite wall and thickness changes at a site of incipient branch formation. The application of the micro-CT technique to museum and fossil specimens is illustrated.

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Acknowledgments

Support for this research was provided by a UK Natural Environmental Research Council Grant NE/F01077X/1 to CTP and KGJ. Acropora pulchra specimens were collected under GBRMPA research permit number G08/27113.1.

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Correspondence to R. C. Roche.

Additional information

Communicated by Geology Editor Prof. Bernhard Riegl

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Roche, R.C., Abel, R.L., Johnson, K.G. et al. Spatial variation in porosity and skeletal element characteristics in apical tips of the branching coral Acropora pulchra (Brook 1891). Coral Reefs 30, 195–201 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-010-0679-1

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Keywords

  • Acropora
  • Porosity
  • CT scan
  • Skeletal structure