The effect of elevated Temperature on Larval Development of Acropora palmata

Open Access
Xu, Dongchen
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Iliana Brigitta Baums, Thesis Supervisor
  • Bernhard Luscher, Honors Advisor
  • temperature
  • coral
  • larval development
  • parentage
Acropora palmata thrived in the Caribbean and Florida but has suffered a great reduction in numbers over the past few decades. Temperature is the most prominent factor leading to coral decline. This experiment focuses on the effects of changes in temperature on A. palmata embryonic development. Larval development was observed via microscopic pictures. Pictures were taken of n=901 larval samples collected in August of 2008 and 2009. Ratios of larvae belonging to 7 developmental stages were recorded. High temperature (30ºC and 29ºC) accelerated the larval development as larvae entered later developmental stages at an earlier time point. Low temperature (25ºC and 27ºC) resulted in slowed larval development rate and delayed metamorphosis for settlement. Samples from different parentage also showed different patterns in development. Among them, batch 2 and individual cross x by 88 had the greatest fertilization rates and greatest larval surface areas. The strong effect of temperature on A. palmata larval development likely influences the dispersal, settlement and survival of the larvae.