Allometric growth in reef-building corals

Maria Dornelas*, Joshua S. Madin, Andrew H. Baird, Sean R. Connolly

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)


    Predicting demographic rates is a critical part of forecasting the future of ecosystems under global change. Here, we test if growth rates can be predicted from morphological traits for a highly diverse group of colonial symbiotic organisms: scleractinian corals. We ask whether growth is isometric or allometric among corals, and whether most variation in coral growth rates occurs at the level of the species or morphological group. We estimate growth as change in planar area for 11 species, across five morphological groups and over 5 years. We show that coral growth rates are best predicted from colony size and morphology rather than species. Coral size follows a power scaling law with a constant exponent of 0.91. Despite being colonial organisms, corals have consistent allometric scaling in growth. This consistency simplifies the task of projecting community responses to disturbance and climate change.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20170053
    Pages (from-to)1-7
    Number of pages7
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B : biological sciences
    Issue number1851
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2017


    • allometry
    • scaling
    • traits
    • morphology
    • Scleractinia


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