Skeletal light-scattering accelerates bleaching response in reef-building corals

Timothy D. Swain, Emily DuBois, Andrew Gomes, Valentina P. Stoyneva, Andrew J. Radosevich, Jillian Henss, Michelle E. Wagner, Justin Derbas, Hannah W. Grooms, Elizabeth M. Velazquez, Joshua Traub, Brian J. Kennedy, Arabela A Grigorescu, Mark W. Westneat, Kevin Sanborn, Shoshana Levine, Mark Schick, George Parsons, Brendan C. Biggs, Jeremy D. Rogers & 2 others Vadim Backman, Luisa A Marcelino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: At the forefront of ecosystems adversely affected by climate change, coral reefs are sensitive to anomalously high temperatures which disassociate (bleaching) photosynthetic symbionts (Symbiodinium) from coral hosts and cause increasingly frequent and severe mass mortality events. Susceptibility to bleaching and mortality is variable among corals, and is determined by unknown proportions of environmental history and the synergy of Symbiodinium- and coral-specific properties. Symbiodinium live within host tissues overlaying the coral skeleton, which increases light availability through multiple light-scattering, forming one of the most efficient biological collectors of solar radiation. Light-transport in the upper ~200 μm layer of corals skeletons (measured as 'microscopic' reduced-scattering coefficient, μ'S,m), has been identified as a determinant of excess light increase during bleaching and is therefore a potential determinant of the differential rate and severity of bleaching response among coral species. Results: Here we experimentally demonstrate (in ten coral species) that, under thermal stress alone or combined thermal and light stress, low-μ'S,m corals bleach at higher rate and severity than high-μ'S,m corals and the Symbiodinium associated with low-μ'S,m corals experience twice the decrease in photochemical efficiency. We further modelled the light absorbed by Symbiodinium due to skeletal-scattering and show that the estimated skeleton-dependent light absorbed by Symbiodinium (per unit of photosynthetic pigment) and the temporal rate of increase in absorbed light during bleaching are several fold higher in low-μ'S,m corals. Conclusions: While symbionts associated with low-μ'S,m corals receive less total light from the skeleton, they experience a higher rate of light increase once bleaching is initiated and absorbing bodies are lost; further precipitating the bleaching response. Because microscopic skeletal light-scattering is a robust predictor of light-dependent bleaching among the corals assessed here, this work establishes μ'S,m as one of the key determinants of differential bleaching response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
JournalBMC Ecology
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 21 2016

Fingerprint

light scattering
bleaching
corals
reefs
coral
reef
Symbiodinium
skeleton
symbionts
symbiont
scattering
thermal stress
mass mortality
environmental history
collectors
light availability
coral reefs
coral reef
solar radiation
pigment

Keywords

  • Coral bleaching
  • Global climate change
  • Optical scattering
  • Photosynthesis
  • Symbiosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

Swain, T. D., DuBois, E., Gomes, A., Stoyneva, V. P., Radosevich, A. J., Henss, J., ... Marcelino, L. A. (2016). Skeletal light-scattering accelerates bleaching response in reef-building corals. BMC Ecology, 16(1), [10]. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12898-016-0061-4
Swain, Timothy D. ; DuBois, Emily ; Gomes, Andrew ; Stoyneva, Valentina P. ; Radosevich, Andrew J. ; Henss, Jillian ; Wagner, Michelle E. ; Derbas, Justin ; Grooms, Hannah W. ; Velazquez, Elizabeth M. ; Traub, Joshua ; Kennedy, Brian J. ; Grigorescu, Arabela A ; Westneat, Mark W. ; Sanborn, Kevin ; Levine, Shoshana ; Schick, Mark ; Parsons, George ; Biggs, Brendan C. ; Rogers, Jeremy D. ; Backman, Vadim ; Marcelino, Luisa A. / Skeletal light-scattering accelerates bleaching response in reef-building corals. In: BMC Ecology. 2016 ; Vol. 16, No. 1.
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abstract = "Background: At the forefront of ecosystems adversely affected by climate change, coral reefs are sensitive to anomalously high temperatures which disassociate (bleaching) photosynthetic symbionts (Symbiodinium) from coral hosts and cause increasingly frequent and severe mass mortality events. Susceptibility to bleaching and mortality is variable among corals, and is determined by unknown proportions of environmental history and the synergy of Symbiodinium- and coral-specific properties. Symbiodinium live within host tissues overlaying the coral skeleton, which increases light availability through multiple light-scattering, forming one of the most efficient biological collectors of solar radiation. Light-transport in the upper ~200 μm layer of corals skeletons (measured as 'microscopic' reduced-scattering coefficient, μ'S,m), has been identified as a determinant of excess light increase during bleaching and is therefore a potential determinant of the differential rate and severity of bleaching response among coral species. Results: Here we experimentally demonstrate (in ten coral species) that, under thermal stress alone or combined thermal and light stress, low-μ'S,m corals bleach at higher rate and severity than high-μ'S,m corals and the Symbiodinium associated with low-μ'S,m corals experience twice the decrease in photochemical efficiency. We further modelled the light absorbed by Symbiodinium due to skeletal-scattering and show that the estimated skeleton-dependent light absorbed by Symbiodinium (per unit of photosynthetic pigment) and the temporal rate of increase in absorbed light during bleaching are several fold higher in low-μ'S,m corals. Conclusions: While symbionts associated with low-μ'S,m corals receive less total light from the skeleton, they experience a higher rate of light increase once bleaching is initiated and absorbing bodies are lost; further precipitating the bleaching response. Because microscopic skeletal light-scattering is a robust predictor of light-dependent bleaching among the corals assessed here, this work establishes μ'S,m as one of the key determinants of differential bleaching response.",
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author = "Swain, {Timothy D.} and Emily DuBois and Andrew Gomes and Stoyneva, {Valentina P.} and Radosevich, {Andrew J.} and Jillian Henss and Wagner, {Michelle E.} and Justin Derbas and Grooms, {Hannah W.} and Velazquez, {Elizabeth M.} and Joshua Traub and Kennedy, {Brian J.} and Grigorescu, {Arabela A} and Westneat, {Mark W.} and Kevin Sanborn and Shoshana Levine and Mark Schick and George Parsons and Biggs, {Brendan C.} and Rogers, {Jeremy D.} and Vadim Backman and Marcelino, {Luisa A}",
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Swain, TD, DuBois, E, Gomes, A, Stoyneva, VP, Radosevich, AJ, Henss, J, Wagner, ME, Derbas, J, Grooms, HW, Velazquez, EM, Traub, J, Kennedy, BJ, Grigorescu, AA, Westneat, MW, Sanborn, K, Levine, S, Schick, M, Parsons, G, Biggs, BC, Rogers, JD, Backman, V & Marcelino, LA 2016, 'Skeletal light-scattering accelerates bleaching response in reef-building corals', BMC Ecology, vol. 16, no. 1, 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12898-016-0061-4

Skeletal light-scattering accelerates bleaching response in reef-building corals. / Swain, Timothy D.; DuBois, Emily; Gomes, Andrew; Stoyneva, Valentina P.; Radosevich, Andrew J.; Henss, Jillian; Wagner, Michelle E.; Derbas, Justin; Grooms, Hannah W.; Velazquez, Elizabeth M.; Traub, Joshua; Kennedy, Brian J.; Grigorescu, Arabela A; Westneat, Mark W.; Sanborn, Kevin; Levine, Shoshana; Schick, Mark; Parsons, George; Biggs, Brendan C.; Rogers, Jeremy D.; Backman, Vadim; Marcelino, Luisa A.

In: BMC Ecology, Vol. 16, No. 1, 10, 21.03.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Skeletal light-scattering accelerates bleaching response in reef-building corals

AU - Swain, Timothy D.

AU - DuBois, Emily

AU - Gomes, Andrew

AU - Stoyneva, Valentina P.

AU - Radosevich, Andrew J.

AU - Henss, Jillian

AU - Wagner, Michelle E.

AU - Derbas, Justin

AU - Grooms, Hannah W.

AU - Velazquez, Elizabeth M.

AU - Traub, Joshua

AU - Kennedy, Brian J.

AU - Grigorescu, Arabela A

AU - Westneat, Mark W.

AU - Sanborn, Kevin

AU - Levine, Shoshana

AU - Schick, Mark

AU - Parsons, George

AU - Biggs, Brendan C.

AU - Rogers, Jeremy D.

AU - Backman, Vadim

AU - Marcelino, Luisa A

PY - 2016/3/21

Y1 - 2016/3/21

N2 - Background: At the forefront of ecosystems adversely affected by climate change, coral reefs are sensitive to anomalously high temperatures which disassociate (bleaching) photosynthetic symbionts (Symbiodinium) from coral hosts and cause increasingly frequent and severe mass mortality events. Susceptibility to bleaching and mortality is variable among corals, and is determined by unknown proportions of environmental history and the synergy of Symbiodinium- and coral-specific properties. Symbiodinium live within host tissues overlaying the coral skeleton, which increases light availability through multiple light-scattering, forming one of the most efficient biological collectors of solar radiation. Light-transport in the upper ~200 μm layer of corals skeletons (measured as 'microscopic' reduced-scattering coefficient, μ'S,m), has been identified as a determinant of excess light increase during bleaching and is therefore a potential determinant of the differential rate and severity of bleaching response among coral species. Results: Here we experimentally demonstrate (in ten coral species) that, under thermal stress alone or combined thermal and light stress, low-μ'S,m corals bleach at higher rate and severity than high-μ'S,m corals and the Symbiodinium associated with low-μ'S,m corals experience twice the decrease in photochemical efficiency. We further modelled the light absorbed by Symbiodinium due to skeletal-scattering and show that the estimated skeleton-dependent light absorbed by Symbiodinium (per unit of photosynthetic pigment) and the temporal rate of increase in absorbed light during bleaching are several fold higher in low-μ'S,m corals. Conclusions: While symbionts associated with low-μ'S,m corals receive less total light from the skeleton, they experience a higher rate of light increase once bleaching is initiated and absorbing bodies are lost; further precipitating the bleaching response. Because microscopic skeletal light-scattering is a robust predictor of light-dependent bleaching among the corals assessed here, this work establishes μ'S,m as one of the key determinants of differential bleaching response.

AB - Background: At the forefront of ecosystems adversely affected by climate change, coral reefs are sensitive to anomalously high temperatures which disassociate (bleaching) photosynthetic symbionts (Symbiodinium) from coral hosts and cause increasingly frequent and severe mass mortality events. Susceptibility to bleaching and mortality is variable among corals, and is determined by unknown proportions of environmental history and the synergy of Symbiodinium- and coral-specific properties. Symbiodinium live within host tissues overlaying the coral skeleton, which increases light availability through multiple light-scattering, forming one of the most efficient biological collectors of solar radiation. Light-transport in the upper ~200 μm layer of corals skeletons (measured as 'microscopic' reduced-scattering coefficient, μ'S,m), has been identified as a determinant of excess light increase during bleaching and is therefore a potential determinant of the differential rate and severity of bleaching response among coral species. Results: Here we experimentally demonstrate (in ten coral species) that, under thermal stress alone or combined thermal and light stress, low-μ'S,m corals bleach at higher rate and severity than high-μ'S,m corals and the Symbiodinium associated with low-μ'S,m corals experience twice the decrease in photochemical efficiency. We further modelled the light absorbed by Symbiodinium due to skeletal-scattering and show that the estimated skeleton-dependent light absorbed by Symbiodinium (per unit of photosynthetic pigment) and the temporal rate of increase in absorbed light during bleaching are several fold higher in low-μ'S,m corals. Conclusions: While symbionts associated with low-μ'S,m corals receive less total light from the skeleton, they experience a higher rate of light increase once bleaching is initiated and absorbing bodies are lost; further precipitating the bleaching response. Because microscopic skeletal light-scattering is a robust predictor of light-dependent bleaching among the corals assessed here, this work establishes μ'S,m as one of the key determinants of differential bleaching response.

KW - Coral bleaching

KW - Global climate change

KW - Optical scattering

KW - Photosynthesis

KW - Symbiosis

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Swain TD, DuBois E, Gomes A, Stoyneva VP, Radosevich AJ, Henss J et al. Skeletal light-scattering accelerates bleaching response in reef-building corals. BMC Ecology. 2016 Mar 21;16(1). 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12898-016-0061-4