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Free Content Fragmentation: A Mechanism for the Stimulation of Genet Growth Rates in an Encrusting Colonial Ascidian

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As a result of colony fragmentation the colonial ascidian, Diplosoma similis, grows as a clone of physiologically isolated colonies. This study experimentally tested the hypothesis that one of the advantages of fragmentation is that it stimulates growth of the genetic individual, or genet, by dividing the genet into small colonies which have higher relative growth rates than larger ones. The hypothesis was tested by comparing the growth rates, over a two week period, of different sized colonies derived from 41 presumed genets. Each set of genetically identical colonies was created by surgically fragmenting larger naturally occurring colonies. No effect of surgical fragmentation was detected in a preliminary experiment which compared the growth and survivorship of equal sized and genetically identical cut and uncut colonies. The relationship between growth (change in zooid number) and initial size was modeled as a power function, the exponent of which represents the rate of change of the function. The rate of change was empirically determined to be significantly less than one, 0.89 ± 0.03, indicating that relative growth rates decline with increasing colony size and supporting the hypothesis that fragmentation stimulates genet growth rates.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1989-09-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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