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Allometric scaling in small colonies of the scleractinian coral Siderastrea siderea (Ellis and Solander)
Vollmer, S.V.; Edmunds, P.J. (2000). Allometric scaling in small colonies of the scleractinian coral Siderastrea siderea (Ellis and Solander). Biol. Bull. 199: 21-28
In: Biological Bulletin. Marine Biological Laboratory: Lancaster. ISSN 0006-3185, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Vollmer, S.V.
  • Edmunds, P.J.

    Although most physiological traits scale allometrically in unitary organisms, it has been hypothesized that modularity allows for isometric scaling in colonial modular taxa. Isometry would allow increases in size without functional constraints, and is thought to be of central importance to the success of a modular design. Yet, despite its potential importance, scaling in these organisms has received little attention. To determine whether scleractinian corals are free of allometric constraints, we quantified metabolic scaling, measured as aerobic respiration, in small colonies (#40 mm in diam.) of the scleractinian Siderastrea sidereal. We also quantified the scaling of colony surface area with biomass, since the proposed isometry is contingent upon maintaining a constant ratio of surface area to biomass (or volume) with size. Contrary to the predicted isometry, aerobic respiration scaled allometrically on biomass with a slope (b) of 0.176, and colony surface area scaled allometrically on biomass with a slope of 0.730. These findings indicate that small colonies of S. sidereal have disproportionately high metabolic rates and SA:B ratios compared to their larger counterparts. The most probable explanations for the allometric scaling of aerobic respiration are (1) a decline in the SA:B ratio with size such that more surface area is available per unit of biomass for mass transfer in the smallest colonies, and (2) the small size, young age, and disproportionately high growth rates of the corals examined. This allometric scaling also demonstrates that modularity, alone, does not allow small colonies of S. sidereal to overcome allometric constraints. Further studies are required to determine whether allometric scaling is characteristic of the full size range of colonies of S. sidereal.

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