Australian Marine Parks


Differential bleaching susceptibility among coral taxa and colony sizes,  relative to bleaching severity across Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and  Coral Sea Marine Parks (PDF)


Climate-induced coral bleaching represents the foremost threat to coral assemblages globally, however bleaching susceptibility varies among and within coral taxa.

We compared bleaching susceptibility among 10 coral morpho-taxa and two colony size classes relative to reef-scale bleaching severity at 33 reefs across the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea Marine Parks in February–March 2020.

Colony size and bleaching severity caused the hierarchy of bleaching susceptibility among taxa to change considerably. Notably, massive Porites shifted from being among the least likely taxa to exhibit bleaching, to among the most susceptible as overall bleaching severity increased.

Juvenile corals (≤5 cm diameter) were generally more resistant to bleaching, except for Montipora and Pocillopora colonies, which were more likely to bleach than adults (>5 cm).

These findings suggest that colony size and reef-scale bleaching severity are important determinants of bleaching susceptibility among taxa and provide insights into possible shifts in the structure of coral assemblages caused by bleaching events.