Effects of temperature, light and heterotrophy on the growth rate and budding of the temperate coral Cladocora caespitosa

R. Rodolfo-Metalpa, A. Peirano, F. Houlbrèque, M. Abbate, C. Ferrier-Pagès

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Recent investigations have shown the temperate scleractinian coral Cladocora caespitosa to be a new potential climate archive for the Mediterranean Sea. Whilst earlier studies have demonstrated a seasonal variation in growth rates, they were unable to distinguish which environmental parameter (light, temperature, or food) was influencing growth. In this study, the effect of these three factors on the coral physiology and calcification rate was characterized to aid the correct interpretation of skeletal trace element variations. Two temperatures (13 and 23°C), irradiances (50 and 120 μmol m-2s-1), and feeding regimes (unfed and fed with nauplii of Artemia salina) were tested under controlled laboratory conditions on the growth, zooxanthellae density, chlorophyll (chl) content, and asexual reproduction (budding) of C. caespitosa during a 7-week factorial experiment. Unlike irradiance, which had no effect, high temperature and food supply increased the growth rates of C. caespitosa. The effect of feeding was however higher for corals maintained at low temperature, suggesting that heterotrophy is especially important during the cold season, and that temperature is the predominant factor affecting the coral's growth. At low temperature, fed samples had higher zooxanthellae density and chl content, possibly for maximizing photosynthetic efficiency. Sexual reproduction investment of C. caespitosa was higher during favourable conditions characterised by high temperatures and zooplankton availability. © 2007 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17 - 25
Number of pages9
JournalCoral Reefs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science

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