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.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3708343.
- Received January 9, 2017.
- Accepted February 23, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.