Seasonal drivers of productivity and calcification in the coral Platygyra carnosa in a subtropical reef

Walter Dellisanti, Jeffery T. H. Chung, Sam K. F. Yiu, Ryan Ho Leung Tsang, Put Ang Jr., Yip Hung Yeung, Jian Wen Qiu, Shelby E. McIlroy, Mark L. Wells, Jiajun Wu, Leo Lei Chan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Scleractinian corals are increasingly subjected to local stressors combined with global changes. In subtropical areas, corals exhibit metabolic plasticity and resilience in response to variability and extremes in local temperature, salinity, and light; however, the physiological mechanisms by which corals acclimate or adapt to these changing conditions remain disputed. We assessed the physiological status of the coral Platygyra carnosa during a two-year in situ monitoring survey. To obtain metabolic rates (respiration and photosynthesis), photochemical efficiency (Fv / Fm), and biocalcification measurements, non-invasive techniques such as underwater respirometry, Pulse Amplitude Modulated (PAM) fluorometry, total alkalinity measurements, and digital photography were used. Our findings show clear seasonality in water quality parameters, which affected coral health. Elevated temperatures during the summer were below the maximum monthly mean < 31°C) but reduced the energetic productivity of corals (-44% relative to winter). Fluctuations in salinity (25–38 ppt) and pH (7.65–8.44) were linked to rainfall and reduced calcification rates. The conditions during the spring were favorable for coral metabolism and calcification (+20% relative to summer). Overall, our research demonstrates that the metabolic plasticity of P. carnosa in response to shifts in seawater quality allows this species to survive ongoing environmental change. Our in situ observations provide fundamental insights into coral response mechanisms under changing environmental conditions and contribute to projections of coral health under future scenarios of global change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number994591
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering

User-Defined Keywords

  • coral physiology
  • metabolic performance
  • metabolic rates
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • subtropical corals


Dive into the research topics of 'Seasonal drivers of productivity and calcification in the coral Platygyra carnosa in a subtropical reef'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this