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PeerJ. 2017 Apr 11;5:e3191. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3191. eCollection 2017.

Calcification and growth rate recovery of the reef-building Pocillopora species in the northeast tropical Pacific following an ENSO disturbance.

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Laboratorio de Zoología Marina, Tecnológico Nacional de México, Instituto Tecnológico de Bahía de Banderas, Bahía de Banderas, Nayarit, México.
Laboratorio de Ecología Marina, Centro de Investigaciones Costeras, Centro Universitario de la Costa, Universidad de Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, México.
Unidad Académica de Sistemas Arrecifales, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México.


Pocilloporids are one of the major reef-building corals in the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) and also the most affected by thermal stress events, mainly those associated with El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) periods. To date, coral growth parameters have been poorly reported in Pocillopora species in the northeastern region of the tropical Pacific. Monthly and annual growth rates of the three most abundant morphospecies (P. cf. verrucosa, P. cf. capitata, and P. cf. damicornis) were evaluated during two annual periods at a site on the Pacific coast of Mexico. The first annual period, 2010-2011 was considered a strong ENSO/La Niña period with cool sea surface temperatures, then followed by a non-ENSO period in 2012-2013. The linear extension rate, skeletal density, and calcification rate averaged (±SD) were 2.31 ± 0.11 cm yr-1, 1.65 ± 0.18 g cm-3, 5.03 ± 0.84 g cm-2 yr-1 respectively, during the strong ENSO event. In contrast, the respective non-ENSO values were 3.50 ± 0.64 cm yr-1, 1.70 ± 0.18 g cm-3, and 6.02 ± 1.36 g cm-2 yr-1. This corresponds to 52% and 20% faster linear extension and calcification rates, respectively, during non-ENSO period. The evidence suggests that Pocillopora branching species responded positively with faster growth rates following thermal anomalies, which allow them to maintain coral communities in the region.


Annual calcification; Central Mexican Pacific; Coral density; Extension rate; Thermal stress

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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