Coral Reefs

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 819–826 | Cite as

Morphology, severity, and distribution of growth anomalies in the coral, Montipora capitata, at Wai‘ōpae, Hawai‘i

  • J. H. R. BurnsEmail author
  • N. K. Rozet
  • M. Takabayashi


This study investigated the morphology, severity, and distribution of growth anomalies (GAs) in the coral, Montipora capitata, from Wai‘ōpae tide pools, southeast Hawai‘i Island. A macro-image analysis of skeletal microstructure placed GAs into two definable categories; Type A and Type B. Type A GAs had polyp density reduced by 43.05 ± 0.80% (mean ± SE) compared to healthy M. capitata tissue, with many fused and protrusive tuberculae. Type B GAs had no discernable polyps or calices and fused protuberant coenosteum. The prevalence of Type A and Type B GAs among all M. capitata colonies (n = 1,093) in 8 tide pools at Wai‘ōpae was 22.1% (range 2.8–33.7%) and 8.2% (range 0.0–16.9%), respectively. The proportion of colony surface area occupied by GA (relative GA cover) was quantified to assess the severity of this disease among all surveyed colonies. The relative GA cover was significantly greater on colonies larger than 1 m in diameter than smaller colonies and in the central portion of colonies than in the periphery. Furthermore, relative GA cover was negatively related to water motion (R2 = 0.748, P < 0.01). Developing field diagnostic criteria of M. capitata GA allowed for a detailed epizootiological assessment that determined several cofactors associated with disease severity. Such epizootiological analysis is applicable to future studies of GAs elsewhere.


Montipora Coral Coral disease Growth anomaly Prevalence Hawai‘i 



Growth anomaly


Marine Life Conservation District


Clod card dissolution



This research was funded by National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program Project R/HE-4 to MT under Institutional Grant No. NA05OAR4171048, publication number UNIHI-SEAGRANT-JC-09-18, and National Science Foundation Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology Grant No. 0833211 to MT for the Center in Tropical Ecology and Evolution in Marine and Terrestrial Environments. Support for NKR was provided by National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Grant No. DBI04-53630. We thank Professor Drew Harvell and three anonymous reviewers for critiquing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. R. Burns
    • 1
    Email author
  • N. K. Rozet
    • 2
  • M. Takabayashi
    • 2
  1. 1.Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science, University of Hawai‘i at HiloHiloUSA
  2. 2.Marine Science Department, University of Hawai‘i at HiloHiloUSA

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