The importance of regional differences in hard coral recruitment rates for determining the need for coral restoration
Reef restoration is becoming increasingly popular as tropical coral reefs through the world are subject to increasing levels of anthropogenic and natural damage. This study examined recruitment rates of scleractinian and milleporan corals in three different reef systems and assessed the potential for rapid natural reef recovery based on coral recruitment rates. Scleractinian summer recruitment at sites in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Western Pacific Ocean ranged from 0 to 112 spat m−2; mean annual recruitment in Fiji, South Pacific Ocean and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean Sea varied from 51–1812 spat m−2 and 89–180 spat m−2, respectively. In the Caribbean no acroporids recruited to the plates and there were few spat from other broadcast spawning species. However, the hydrocoral Millepora, an uncommon recruit in the Pacific studies, was common in the Caribbean study. Some reef systems receive a large natural supply of planulae and coral cover will likely return to pre-perturbation levels within a decade. Other reef systems receive up to two orders of magnitude fewer planulae and recovery may be delayed for many decades. On reefs with high recruitment rates, it may be better to allocate limited resources to managing the source of damage and allow the reefs to recover naturally.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 1, 2001
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