The ‘gardening coral reefs’ method is part of the approaches proposed for counteracting the substantial impacts of global climate change on the survival of coral reefs. It incorporates ecosystem engineering strategies for coral nursery farming and coral colonies out-planting. This study explores the reproductive output of three sets of nursery-grown Stylophora pistillata colonies along eight reproductive seasons following transplantation, as compared to that of native corals. When native and transplanted corals grew side by side in a disturbed environment, the nursery-grown transplants showed enhanced larval release (2.6–22.5 times more planulae/colony; multiyear average: 11.6±1.8 planulae/transplant vs. 1.5±0.3 planulae/native colony) with higher percentages of gravid colonies (91±2.1% transplants vs. 34±7.6% native colonies). The inherently enhanced larval production of transplants, maintained for such a long period of time post-transplantation, reveals a possible enduring impact of the nursery conditions on future fitness and ecological traits of transplants. This is further supported by the emerging documentation regarding the enhanced growth of corals under nursery conditions, which continues to be detected even years after transplantation was conducted on the natural reef. The above enhancement of coral reproduction can be harnessed as a human intervention tool for countering global climate change impacts.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by the USAID-MERC program (no. M33-001), by the North American Friends of IOLR (NAF/IOLR) and by the Jewish National Fund.
© 2020 Gesellschaft für Ökologie
- Coral nursery
- Coral transplantation
- Gardening approach
- Planulae output
- Reef rehabilitation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics