The growth of scleractinian corals is strongly influenced by the effect of water motion. Corals are known to have a high level of phenotypic variation and exhibit a diverse range of growth forms, which often contain a high level of geometric complexity. Due to their complex shape, simulation models represent an important option to complement experimental studies of growth and flow. In this work, we analyzed the impact of flow on coral's morphology by an accretive growth model coupled with advection-diffusion equations. We performed simulations under no-flow and uni-directional flow setup with the Reynolds number constant. The relevant importance of diffusion to advection was investigated by varying the diffusion coefficient, rather than the flow speed in Péclet number. The flow and transport equations were coupled and solved using COMSOL Multiphysics. We then compared the simulated morphologies with a series of Computed Tomography (CT) scans of scleractinian corals Pocillopora verrucosa exposed to various flow conditions in the in situ controlled flume setup. As a result, we found a similar trend associated with the increasing Péclet for both simulated forms and in situ corals; that is uni-directional current tends to facilitate asymmetrical growth response resulting in colonies with branches predominantly developed in the upstream direction. A closer look at the morphological traits yielded an interesting property about colony symmetry and plasticity induced by uni-directional flow. Both simulated and in situ corals exhibit a tendency where the degree of symmetry decreases and compactification increases in conjunction with the augmented Péclet thus indicates the significant importance of hydrodynamics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Modeling and Simulation
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Computational Theory and Mathematics