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Free Content Can self-fertilizing coral species be used to enhance restoration of Caribbean reefs?

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Reef restoration programs involving transplantation should be most successful when using coral species exhibiting high reproductive potential, local recruitment, and the ability to tolerate stresses induced by transplantation. One mode of enhancing reproduction, especially when populations densities are low, is through self-fertilization. To determine if the high reproductive output observed in many hermaphroditic brooders is the product of self fertilization, randomly amplified polymorphic DNA was used to quantify selfing rates in three brooding, hermaphroditic Caribbean corals, Favia fragum, Porites astreoides, and Agaricia agaricites. Self-fertilization rates in the field were high (49% for F. fragum, 34% for P. astreoides and 38% for A. agaricites). Given these high selfing rates, we tested the resiliency of hermaphroditic brooders by transplanting intact and divided colonies of P. astreoides within and between 9 and 24 m depth. Survivorship was high in all transplant groups after 21 mo. Growth rates and larval production of transplanted colonies fell below those of colonies remaining at their depth of origin only at 24 m depth. Even so, colonies transplanted from 9 to 24 m depth appeared healthy throughout the experiment. These results suggest that hermaphroditic brooders meet at least two of the criteria needed for successful coral transplantation programs.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-09-01

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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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