High-frequency imagery to capture coral tissue (Montipora capricornis) response to environmental stress, a pilot study

Shuaifeng Li, Liza M. Roger, Lokender Kumar, Nastassja A. Lewinski, Judith Klein-Seetharaman, Hollie M. Putnam, Jinkyu Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Environment stress is a major threat to the existence of coral reefs and has generated a lot of interest in the coral research community. Under the environmental stress, corals can experience tissue loss and/or the breakdown of symbiosis between the cnidarian host and its symbiotic algae causing the coral tissue to appear white as the skeleton can be seen by transparency. Image analysis is a common method used to assess tissue response under the environmental stress. However, the traditional approach is limited by the dynamic nature of the coral-algae symbiosis. Here, we observed coral tissue response in the scleractinian coral, Montipora capricornis, using high frequency image analysis throughout the experiment, as opposed to the typical start/end point assessment method. Color analysis reveals that the process can be divided into five stages with two critical stages according to coral tissue morphology and color ratio. We further explore changes to the morphology of individual polyps by means of the Pearson correlation coefficient and recurrence plots, where the quasi-periodic and nonstationary dynamics can be identified. The recurrence quantification analysis also allows the comparison between the different polyps. Our research provides a detailed visual and mathematical analysis of coral tissue response to environmental stress, which potentially shows universal applicability. Moreover, our approach provides a robust quantitative advancement for improving our insight into a suite of biotic responses in the perspective of coral health evaluation and fate prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0283042
JournalPloS one
Issue number3 March
StatePublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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