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

James Cant*, Katie M. Cook, James D. Reimer, Takuma Mezaki, Masako Nakamura, Cliodhna O'Flaherty, Roberto Salguero-Gómez, Maria Beger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


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 subtropical and temperate Acropora spp. colonies in Japan between 2017 and 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 subtropical and temperate 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 emphasizes that coral populations can possess the demographic plasticity necessary for exploiting more variable, marginal conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere06156
Number of pages14
Issue number10
Early online date26 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • Acropora spp.
  • Amplification
  • Integral projection model (IPM)
  • Kitagawa and Keyfitz decomposition
  • Subtropical
  • Transient life table response experiment


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