Cold-water coral framework architecture is selectively shaped by bottom current flow.

Sanna, Giovanni, Büscher, Janina V. and Freiwald, Andre (2023) Cold-water coral framework architecture is selectively shaped by bottom current flow. Open Access Coral Reefs, 42 . pp. 483-495. DOI 10.1007/s00338-023-02361-z.

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The three-dimensional (3D) structure of habitat-forming corals has profound impacts on reef ecosystem processes. Elucidating coral structural responses to the environment is therefore crucial to understand changes in these ecosystems. However, little is known of how environmental factors shape coral structure in deep and dark waters, where cold-water coral (CWC) reefs thrive. Here, we attempt to infer the influence of current flow on CWC framework architecture, using 3D scanning to quantify colony shape traits (volume compactness and surface complexity) in the reef-building CWC Desmophyllum pertusum from adjacent fjord and offshore habitats with contrasting flow regimes. We find substantial architectural variability both between and within habitats. We show that corals are generally more compact in the fjord habitat, reflecting the prevailing higher current speeds, although differences in volume compactness between fjord and offshore corals are more subtle when comparing the fjord with the more exposed side of the offshore setting, probably due to locally intensified currents. Conversely, we observe no clear disparity in coral surface complexity between habitats (despite its positive correlation with volume compactness), suggesting it is not affected by current speed. Unlike volume compactness, surface complexity is similarly variable within a single colony as it is between colonies within the same habitat or between habitats and is therefore perhaps more dependent than volume compactness on microenvironmental conditions. These findings suggest a highly plastic, trait-specific and functionally relevant structural response of CWCs to current flow and underscore the importance of multiple concurrent sources of hydrodynamic forcing on CWC growth.

Document Type: Article
Funder compliance: BMBF: 03F0655A
Keywords: 3D scanning; Coral morphology; Deep-water reef; Hydrodynamics; Lophelia pertusa; Plasticity; Shape analysis
Research affiliation: MARUM
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BI Biological Oceanography
Main POF Topic: PT6: Marine Life
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: Springer
Related URLs:
Projects: BIOACID
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2023 11:00
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2024 15:49

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