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Linear extension, skeletal density, and calcification rates of the blue coral Heliopora coerulea

Lookup NU author(s): Dr James Guest, Emeritus Professor Alasdair Edwards, Dr Romeo Dizon



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The brooding reef-building octocoral Heliopora is widespread on Indo-West Pacific reefs and appears to be relatively resistant to thermal stress, which may enable it to persist locally while scleractinians diminish under Anthropocene conditions. However, basic physiological measurements of “blue corals” are lacking and prevent their inclusion in trait-based studies. We address this by quantifying rates (mean ± SE) of linear extension (0.86 ± 0.05 cm yr−1) and skeletal density (2.01 ± 0.06 g cm−3) to estimate calcification rates (0.87 ± 0.08 g cm−2 yr−1) for the small branching/columnar morphology of Heliopora coerulea. We postulate that H. coerulea may become an increasingly important reef-builder under ocean warming due to its relative resistance to thermal stress and high skeletal density that make colonies less vulnerable to storm damage under ocean acidification. Moreover, Heliopora corals are likely dispersal limited suggesting they may be an underappreciated genus for restoration of stress-tolerant reef-building capacity on degraded reefs. ExtensionSkeletal densityCalcification rateBlue coralOctocoralOcean warmingOcean acidificationCoral reef restoration

Publication metadata

Author(s): Courtney TA, Guest JR, Edwards AJ, Dizon RM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Coral Reefs

Year: 2021

Volume: 40

Pages: 1631-1635

Online publication date: 29/07/2021

Acceptance date: 10/06/2021

Date deposited: 10/08/2021

ISSN (print): 0722-4028

ISSN (electronic): 1432-0975

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00338-021-02137-3


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