[Coral-List] Coral immortality

Kelly H Kilbourne kilbourn at umces.edu
Thu Mar 24 09:16:51 EDT 2011

Hi All,

Normally I am a lurker on this list, but the question of changes in 
growth with age in corals has come up a couple of times.  As a 
coral-paleoclimate person, I've seen my share of old coral cores (mostly 
Porites spp. and Montastraea spp.) and old coral core x-rays.  I have 
not seen a systematic change in extension rate related to age as you 
might expect if there was some ontonogenic effect.  Trees and long-lived 
bivalves on the other hand have very pronounced age-dependent growth 
patterns. My hypothesis to explain this has always been that corals are 
colonies, not individuals, so that while any one corallite might die, 
the colony is constantly budding new corallites, so that the living, 
growing surface is never really that old.



Kelly Halimeda Kilbourne, "Hali"
Research Assistant Professor
Univ. of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory
1 Williams St., PO Box 38
Solomons, MD 20688

phone: 410-326-7205
fax: 410-3267341

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