A Comparison of Effects of Elevated Temperature versus Temperature Fluctuations on Reef Corals at Kahe Point, Oahu

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1975-01
Authors
Coles, Stephen L.
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University of Hawai'i Press
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Abstract
Bottom temperature and the condition of live corals in the vicinity of the discharge plume from the Hawaiian Electric Company Kahe Generating Station, Oahu, Hawaii, were monitored August-December 1973. Mortality to Pocillopora meandrina, the most thermally sensitive species of the area, was no greater under conditions of maximum thermal enrichment near the living reef fringe in the discharge area (1-2 m depth) than in an area (4-5 m depth) more distant from the discharge. Sublethal coral damage was more pronounced near the discharge, but was mostly limited to loss of zooxanthellar pigment which was restored following yearly ambient temperature maxima. Although bottom temperatures in the discharge area continually varied 30-40 C within minute periods during every low tide, live corals seldom encountered temperatures exceeding 31 0 C. The limited damage that occurred to live corals indicates that upper absolute temperatures are more critical in producing coral damage than are short-term temperature shocks near upper lethal limits.
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Coles SL. 1975. A comparison of effects of elevated temperature versus temperature fluctuations on reef corals at Kahe Point, Oahu. Pac Sci 29(1): 15-18.
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