Marine Biology

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 201–208 | Cite as

Effects of temperature on the mortality and growth of Hawaiian reef corals

  • P. L. Jokiel
  • S. L. Coles


Three common species of Hawaiian reef corals, Pocillopora damicornis (L.), Montipora verrucosa (Lamarck) and Fungia scutaria Lamarck, were grown in a temperature-regulated, continuous-flow sea water system. The skeletal growth optimum occurred near 26°C, coinciding with the natural summer ambient temperature in Hawaii, and was lowest at 21° to 22°C, representing Hawaiian winter ambient. Levels of approximately 32°C produced mortality within days. Prolonged exposure to temperatures of approximately 30°C eventually caused loss of photosynthetic pigment, increased mortality, and reduced calcification. Corals lived only 1 to 2 weeks at 18°C. The corals showed greater initial resistance at the lower lethal limit, but ultimately low temperature was more deleterious than high temperature. Results suggest that a decrease in the natural water temperature of Hawaiian reefs would be more harmful to corals than a temperature increase of the same magnitude.


Ambient Temperature Water Temperature Temperature Increase Water System Natural Water 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. L. Jokiel
    • 1
  • S. L. Coles
    • 1
  1. 1.Hawaii Institute of Marine BiologyKaneoheUSA

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