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Front Zool. 2012 Nov 19;9(1):32. doi: 10.1186/1742-9994-9-32.

Inferred calcification rate of a Mediterranean azooxanthellate coral is uncoupled with sea surface temperature along an 8° latitudinal gradient.

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Marine Science Group, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Via F, Selmi 3, Bologna, EU, 40126, Italy.



Correlations between sea surface temperature (SST) and growth parameters of the solitary azooxanthellate Dendrophylliid Leptopsammia pruvoti were assessed along an 8° latitudinal gradient on western Italian coasts (Mediterranean Sea), to check for possible negative effects of increasing temperature as the ones reported for a closely related, sympatric but zooxanthellate species.


Calcification rate was correlated with skeletal density but not with linear extension rate, indicating that calcium carbonate deposition was preferentially allocated to keep a constant skeletal density. Unlike most studies on both temperate and tropical zooxanthellate corals, where calcification rate is strongly related to environmental parameters such as SST, in the present study calcification rate was not correlated with SST.


The lower sensitivity of L. pruvoti to SST with respect to other sympatric zooxanthellate corals, such as Balanophyllia europaea, may rely on the absence of a temperature induced inhibition of photosynthesis, and thus the absence of an inhibition of the calcification process. This study is the first field investigation of the relationship between SST and the three growth parameters of an azooxanthellate coral. Increasing research effort on determining the effects of temperature on biological traits of the poorly studied azooxanthellate scleractinians may help to predict the possible species assemblage shifts that are likely to occur in the immediate future as a consequence of global climatic change.

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