Closing the circle : is it feasible to rehabilitate reefs with sexually propagated corals?
Guest, J. R.
Baria, M. V.
Gomez, E. D.
Heyward, A. J.
Edwards, A. J.
Date of Issue2013
Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute
Sexual propagation of corals specifically for reef rehabilitation remains largely experimental. In this study, we refined low technology culture and transplantation approaches and assessed the role of colony size and age, at time of transfer from nursery to reef, on subsequent survival. Larvae from Acropora millepora were reared from gametes and settled on engineered substrates, called coral plug-ins, that were designed to simplify transplantation to areas of degraded reef. Plug-ins, with laboratory spawned and settled coral recruits attached, were maintained in nurseries until they were at least 7 months old before being transplanted to replicate coral limestone outcrops within a marine protected area until they were 31 months old. Survival rates of transplanted corals that remained at the protected in situ nursery the longest were 3.9–5.6 times higher than corals transplanted to the reef earlier, demonstrating that an intermediate ocean nursery stage is critical in the sexual propagation of corals for reef rehabilitation. 3 years post-settlement, colonies were reproductively mature, making this one of few published studies to date to rear a broadcasting scleractinian from eggs to spawning adults. While our data show that it is technically feasible to transplant sexually propagated corals and rear them until maturity, producing a single 2.5-year-old coral on the reef cost at least US$60. ‘What if’ scenarios indicate that the cost per transplantable coral could be reduced by almost 80 %, nevertheless, it is likely that the high cost per coral using sexual propagation methods would constrain delivery of new corals to relatively small scales in many countries with coral reefs.
© 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. This paper was published in Coral Reefs and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. The paper can be found at the following official DOI: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00338-013-1114-1]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.