Most studies to date on the various life-history aspects of scleractinian corals (e.g. reproduction, connectivity, and physiology) have focused on their innate habitats. However, comprehensive data on the ability of both shallow and mesophotic corals to contend in the coming decades with the different environmental conditions they may encounter due to new habitats or environmental changes (e.g. eutrophication), are scarce. Long-term cross-transplantation experiments assessing the potential responses and acclimatization ability of corals are thus needed in order to expand our knowledge. Here we examined the survivorship and changes in the photobiological acclimatization of corals following their cross-transplantation between two different depths (5–10 m and 45 m) and two sites characterized by different abiotic conditions (i.e. light, nutrient, and sedimentation regime). This year-long in-situ experiment was performed on five depth-generalist coral species. Depth of origin and the species’ particular morphology were found to be the strongest predictors of survivorship. Physiological responses occurred mainly among those corals that had been translocated from deep-to-shallow water, and were expressed in a significant reduction in chlorophyll-a concentration and algal density, as well as changes in photosynthetic parameters (e.g. minimal/maximal saturating points, Ek and Em, and rETRmax). Our findings contribute to the existing knowledge on the ability of species-specific coral responses to contend with dramatic changes in their environment. The findings presented here contribute to assessment of the physiological and ecological consequences for corals of the long-term environmental changes that result from extreme environmental events.
Israel - Red Sea