Reef-building corals inhabit a variety of aquatic habitats with a range of light conditions. Because the coral host depends on photosynthetic products assimilated from endosymbiotic algae, reef-building corals have to cope with irradiance fluctuations on instantaneous to seasonal time scales. Underwater high-frequency light fluctuations resulting from the lens effect on the water surface are prominent in oligotrophic coral reef environments, a phenomenon known as flicker light. Effects of flicker light on endosymbiont photosynthesis of the reef-building coral Acropora digitifera (Dana, 1846) were evaluated with pulse amplitude modulation chlorophyll fluorometry. At supersaturating light intensities, photosynthesis was less inhibited by flicker light than by constant light. Reduction in photoinhibition by flicker light was pronounced at high water temperatures. Flicker light may strongly influence endosymbiont photosynthesis of corals inhabiting shallow reef habitats, especially during periods of strong solar irradiance and high water temperature.
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Vol. 62 • No. 3