Settling in aggregation: Spatial planning consideration for brooding coral transplants

Dor Shefy, Gabrielle Guerrini, Nir Marom, Nadav Shashar, Baruch Rinkevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aggregated larval co-settlement has been documented in myriad marine invertebrate taxa, shaping adult population structures. Still, kinship settlement patterns in brooding corals have not been studied in detail, especially under scenarios of enhanced larval assemblies. Employing two sets of ex-situ experiments, planulae staining for kinship resolution and a computer random settlement simulation, we show that larval settlement of the coral Stylophora pistillata, a brooding species in the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat, is mostly affected by the number of larval donors, and that larvae tend to aggregate (up to 50% tissue-contacts; distances <3 mm), compared to 3% predicted in a computer simulation, all without a kinship-bias. Field surveys on juvenile colonies revealed a similar clustering pattern. Although aggregated settlement inevitably carries disadvantages such as intraspecific competition, it may be bracketed in adult colonies with benefits such as enhanced fertilization and chimerism-related ecological advantages, including augmented colony size and survivorship. These improved life-history traits of brooding coral species that aggregate could be harnessed as applied ecological engineering tools in reef restoration acts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105612
JournalMarine Environmental Research
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the Barrett Foundation (to BR) and by the Schechter Puech foundation (to BR), by the ISF (number ( 3511/21 ) - NSFC (number 42161144006 ) Joint Scientific Research Program (to BR).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Allorecognition
  • Chimerism
  • Ecological engineering
  • Reef restoration
  • Settlement
  • Stylophora pistillata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography


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