Settling, Survivorship and Spatial Aggregation in Planulae and Juveniles of the Coral Porites Porites (Pallas)
The spatial distribution of settled corals is quantitatively analyzed using conventional indices of aggregation and graphical methods to study the roles of physical and biological interactions in the life history, and population ecology, of sessile organisms with planktonic larva. Porites porites (Pallas) planulae, released naturally from a fecund colony, were cultivated in a laboratory glass aquarium and allowed to grow for 11 weeks, after which, the location and developmental stage of each settled individual was recorded. More than half of the planulae settled on the bottom, although this was only about one quarter of the available substrate. Virtually all planulae settling on the walls died after adhesion prior to initiation of skeletogenesis; while, 60% of those on the bottom survived to skeleton deposition. The developmental age distribution of the population on the bottom shows that mortality is greatly reduced once the juvenile coral initiates skeleton formation. Individuals were aggregated but the survivors were segregated from those dying shortly after attachment. Although mortality was patchy, the major determinant of the non-random patterns of survivors was the initial aggregated pattern of settlement. Mortality is concluded not to be density dependent. Quantitative analysis of laboratory settling experiments can elucidate interactions structuring coral reef community ecology that can not be obtained in the field.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1981-04-01
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