Transient amplification enhances the persistence of tropicalising coral assemblages in marginal high latitude environments

  • James Inman Cant (Creator)
  • Katie Cook (Creator)
  • James Reimer (Creator)
  • Takuma Mezaki (Creator)
  • Masako Nakamura (Creator)
  • Cliodhna O'Flaherty (Creator)
  • Rob Salguero-Gomez (Creator)
  • Maria Beger (Creator)



Predicting the viability of species exposed to increasing climatic stress requires an appreciation for the mechanisms underpinning the success or failure of marginal populations. Rather than traditional metrics of long-term population performance, here we illustrate that short-term (i.e., transient) demographic characteristics, including measures of resistance, recovery, and compensation, are fundamental in the poleward range expansion of hard corals, facilitating the establishment of coral populations at higher latitudes. Through the annual census of tropical and subtropical Acropora spp. colonies in Japan between 2017-2019, we show how enhanced transient amplification (i.e., short-term increases in population growth following disturbance) supports the persistence of coral assemblages within more variable high-latitude environments. The transient dynamics of both the tropical and subtropical assemblages were strongly influenced by their corresponding recruitment patterns. However, we demonstrate that variation in colony survival and fragmentation patterns between the two assemblages determines their relative capacities for transient amplification. This latitudinal variation in the transient dynamics of Acropora spp. assemblages emphasises that coral populations can possess the demographic plasticity necessary for exploiting more variable, marginal conditions.
Date made available2022

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