Direct seeding of mass-cultured coral larvae is not an effective option for reef rehabilitation

A.J. Edwards, J.R. Guest, Andrew Heyward, R.D. Villanueva, M.V.B. Baria, I.S.F. Bollozos, Y. Golbuu

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49 Citations (Web of Science)


© Inter-Research 2015 · Large-scale rearing of coral larvae during mass spawning events and subsequent direct introduction of competent larvae onto denuded reefs ('larval seeding') has been proposed as a low-tech and affordable way of enhancing coral settlement and hence recovery of degraded reefs. While some studies have shown positive short-term effects on settlement, to date, none have examined the long-term effects of larval seeding for a broadcast-spawning coral. Here, we test whether larval seeding significantly increases coral recruitment rates both in the short (5 wk) and longer (∼6 mo to 1 yr) term. Larvae of Acropora digitifera were reared ex situ, and ∼1 million larvae were introduced to 7 artificial reefs (ARs) while 7 others were left unseeded. Settlement tiles deployed on both seeded and control ARs were retrieved for examination 5 and 30 wk after seeding. In addition, the presence of visible coral recruits on the AR surfaces was monitored before and for ∼13 mo post-seeding. Density of acroporid spat was significantly higher on seeded tiles than on controls 5 wk after seeding, but this effect had vanished by 30 wk. Comparison of the densities of new visible Acropora recruits between seeded and control ARs showed no significant difference ∼13 mo after seeding. Larval seeding therefore had no long-term effect due to high post-settlement mortality (which appeared to be density-related). Results suggest that reef-rehabilitation methods that aim to harness coral sexual reproduction might better focus on rearing juveniles through early post-settlement mortality bottlenecks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-116
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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