[Coral-List] The potential for heterotrophic feeding to raise thermal bleaching thresholds

Scott Wooldridge swooldri23 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 28 19:00:11 EDT 2016

Hi Josh Hoyles,

Thanks for your comments/opinions – you make some excellent  observations.

I agree there will be species-specific responses that may differ. The
aerial bleaching response data that i have utilised is likely to be slightly
biased toward the spatially-dominant shallow-water (<10m) species, which
for the GBR tends to be branching and plating *Acropora* spp. (Berkelmans
et al. 2004).

Obviously, there is a gradient to bleaching susceptibility between species
depending on the degree to which the symbiosis (autotrophy) is essential
for host nutrition. Coral species that can supplement autotrophic carbon
acquisition with heterotrophic carbon ‘feeding’ will be much better placed
to benefit from nutrient-enriched blooms of zooplankton etc.

I have previously written about this beneficial trait, but also caution
against the ultimate benefit of the mechanism for raising bleaching
thresholds at the coral community (reef) scale.

Wooldridge SA (2014) Formalising a mechanistic linkage between
heterotrophic feeding and thermal bleaching resistance. Coral reefs





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