Lifespan of a polyp

jaapk at jaapk at
Fri Jan 18 04:06:04 EST 2002

Dear Melissa,

If you assume that you coral colony is for example a Porites or Montastrea
like colony in which the polyps are packed on the surface of the colony,
you can observe that polyps first located at the top of the colony tend to
move towards the sides of the colony in the growth process. The polyps
will end up in environmental conditions will be less favourable (polyps
will for example become occluded and finally die).  The growth
trajectories of a polyp can be visualized on X-ray pictures and from these
pictures it is possible to make estimates of the average life span
(something like 2-3 yr for Porites, see W.M. Darke and D.J. Barnes, Growth
trajectories of corallites and ages of polyps in massive colonies of
reef-building corals of the genus Porites, Mar. Biol. 117:321-326, 1993).
Alternatively you can observe these growth trajectories in simulation
models of growth and form, based on a surface normal deposition model
where you reprsent the individual corallites, of massive and branching
coral species (see The algorithmic beauty of seaweeds, sponges and corals,
J.A. Kaandorp and J.E. Kubler, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 2001). By
varying the average size of a corallite and average growth velocity in
these models, you might be able to make estimates of the average life span
of a polyp and compute how long it will take before a top polyp will end
up in an environmental situation that will lead to death of the polyp.

best regards,


Jaap Kaandorp
Section Computational Science
Faculty of Science
University of Amsterdam
Kruislaan 403
1098 SJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 5257539 / +31 20 5257463
email: jaapk at
fax: +31 20 5257490

>Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 08:51:46 -0800 (PST)
>From: Melissa Keyes <mekvinga at>
>Subject: Lifespan of a polyp
>- --0-594713962-1011027106=:13211
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
>  Hello, all,
>  I was asked, "Does a coral polyp die of old age?"
>  I believe it's one critter that could live indefinitely.  Have there been
>papers on this?
>  Cheers,
>  Melissa Keyes
>  St. Croix, USVI

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