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      A cross-ocean comparison of responses to settlement cues in reef-building corals

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          Abstract

          Caribbean coral reefs have deteriorated substantially over the past 30 years, which is broadly attributable to the effects of global climate change. In the same time, Indo-Pacific reefs maintain higher coral cover and typically recover rapidly after disturbances. This difference in reef resilience is largely due to much higher coral recruitment rates in the Pacific. We hypothesized that the lack of Caribbean recruitment might be explained by diminishing quality of settlement cues and/or impaired sensitivity of Caribbean coral larvae to those cues, relative to the Pacific. To evaluate this hypothesis, we assembled a collection of bulk samples of reef encrusting communities, mostly consisting of crustose coralline algae (CCA), from various reefs around the world and tested them as settlement cues for several coral species originating from different ocean provinces. Cue samples were meta-barcoded to evaluate their taxonomic diversity. We observed no systematic differences either in cue potency or in strength of larval responses depending on the ocean province, and no preference of coral larvae towards cues from the same ocean. Instead, we detected significant differences in cue preferences among coral species, even for corals originating from the same reef. We conclude that the region-wide disruption of the settlement process is unlikely to be the major cause of Caribbean reef loss. However, due to their high sensitivity to the effects of climate change, shifts in the composition of CCA-associated communities, combined with pronounced differences in cue preferences among coral species, could substantially influence future coral community structure.

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          Most cited references 47

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          BIONJ: an improved version of the NJ algorithm based on a simple model of sequence data.

           O. Gascuel (1997)
          We propose an improved version of the neighbor-joining (NJ) algorithm of Saitou and Nei. This new algorithm, BIONJ, follows the same agglomerative scheme as NJ, which consists of iteratively picking a pair of taxa, creating a new mode which represents the cluster of these taxa, and reducing the distance matrix by replacing both taxa by this node. Moreover, BIONJ uses a simple first-order model of the variances and covariances of evolutionary distance estimates. This model is well adapted when these estimates are obtained from aligned sequences. At each step it permits the selection, from the class of admissible reductions, of the reduction which minimizes the variance of the new distance matrix. In this way, we obtain better estimates to choose the pair of taxa to be agglomerated during the next steps. Moreover, in comparison with NJ's estimates, these estimates become better and better as the algorithm proceeds. BIONJ retains the good properties of NJ--especially its low run time. Computer simulations have been performed with 12-taxon model trees to determine BIONJ's efficiency. When the substitution rates are low (maximum pairwise divergence approximately 0.1 substitutions per site) or when they are constant among lineages, BIONJ is only slightly better than NJ. When the substitution rates are higher and vary among lineages,BIONJ clearly has better topological accuracy. In the latter case, for the model trees and the conditions of evolution tested, the topological error reduction is on the average around 20%. With highly-varying-rate trees and with high substitution rates (maximum pairwise divergence approximately 1.0 substitutions per site), the error reduction may even rise above 50%, while the probability of finding the correct tree may be augmented by as much as 15%.
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            Ocean acidification causes bleaching and productivity loss in coral reef builders.

            Ocean acidification represents a key threat to coral reefs by reducing the calcification rate of framework builders. In addition, acidification is likely to affect the relationship between corals and their symbiotic dinoflagellates and the productivity of this association. However, little is known about how acidification impacts on the physiology of reef builders and how acidification interacts with warming. Here, we report on an 8-week study that compared bleaching, productivity, and calcification responses of crustose coralline algae (CCA) and branching (Acropora) and massive (Porites) coral species in response to acidification and warming. Using a 30-tank experimental system, we manipulated CO(2) levels to simulate doubling and three- to fourfold increases [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projection categories IV and VI] relative to present-day levels under cool and warm scenarios. Results indicated that high CO(2) is a bleaching agent for corals and CCA under high irradiance, acting synergistically with warming to lower thermal bleaching thresholds. We propose that CO(2) induces bleaching via its impact on photoprotective mechanisms of the photosystems. Overall, acidification impacted more strongly on bleaching and productivity than on calcification. Interestingly, the intermediate, warm CO(2) scenario led to a 30% increase in productivity in Acropora, whereas high CO(2) lead to zero productivity in both corals. CCA were most sensitive to acidification, with high CO(2) leading to negative productivity and high rates of net dissolution. Our findings suggest that sensitive reef-building species such as CCA may be pushed beyond their thresholds for growth and survival within the next few decades whereas corals will show delayed and mixed responses.
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              Systematic and Biogeographical Patterns in the Reproductive Biology of Scleractinian Corals

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                PeerJ Inc. (San Francisco, USA )
                2167-8359
                8 April 2014
                2014
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin , Austin, TX, United States
                [2 ]Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University , Corvallis, OR, United States
                Article
                333
                10.7717/peerj.333
                3994630
                24765568
                © 2014 Davies et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: National Science Foundation
                Award ID: DEB-1054766
                Research was funded by the National Science Foundation grant DEB-1054766 to MVM, a departmental start-up grant from the Section of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin to SWD and the PADI Foundation Award to SWD. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Ecology
                Marine Biology

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