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Growth and mortality rates of the reef coral Pavona gigantea in Cabo Pulmo reef, Gulf of California

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The reef coral Pavona gigantea Verril, 1896 is an important reef builder in the Eastern Pacific and this study proposed to estimate its growth and mortality rates in Cabo Pulmo National Park, Mexico. The growth rate of 25 colonies was estimated with alizarin staining (mean growth rate + 95% CI was 10.1 + 1.4 mm·yr-1) and the height of 87 colonies was measured to estimate the age structure of the population. The mean age was 14.85 + 1.91 years, with a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 53 years. The mortality rate was fit by an exponential decay model and was estimated to be 0.0533 + 0.0171·yr-1. Based on these results, the presumed maximum longevity of a cohort is around 101 years. This is the first study to present the mortality rate and generation time for any species of the Family Agariciidae and might be used for comparative studies or as a valuable baseline with which to compare current and future changes expected under climate change scenarios. Also, the estimation of natural mortality, potential growth, and the life span of this species may be useful to account for the potential success of restauration efforts.
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Affiliations: 1: Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur. Departamento Académico de Ciencias Marinas y Costeras. Carretera al sur km 5.5., Col. El Mezquitito. CP 23080. La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico 2: Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, Laboratorio de Esclerocronología, Ecología y Pesquerías de la Zona Costera. Carretera Ensenada - Tijuana 3918, Ensenada, Baja California 22860, Mexico 3: Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, UK

Appeared or available online: 24 July 2018

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