Fragments of the lace coral Pocillopora damicornis (Linnaeus, 1758) were transplanted to four sites on the south-central coast of Maui, Hawai‘i, to examine coral growth over a range of expected sediment influence. Corals remained in situ for 11 months and were recovered seasonally for growth measurements using the buoyant weight technique. Average sediment trap accumulation rates ranged from 11 to 490 mg cm−2 day−1 and were greater at the wave-exposed reef site than at the protected harbor sites. Coral growth was highest at the donor site and was higher in the summer than in the winter. A stepwise linear regression found significant effects of sediment trap accumulation and light on growth rates, but the partial correlation coefficients suggest that these factors may be only secondary controls on growth. This study did not show a clear link between coral growth and sediment load. This result may be due, in part, to covariation of sediment load with wave exposure and the inability of trap accumulation rates to integrate all sediment effects (e.g., turbidity) that can affect coral growth.
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Vol. 62 • No. 1