Plasticity in skeletal characteristics of nursery-raised staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis
Staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, is a threatened species and the primary focus of western Atlantic reef restoration efforts to date. We compared linear extension, calcification rate, and skeletal density of nursery-raised A. cervicornis branches reared for 6 months either on blocks attached to substratum or hanging from PVC trees in the water column. We demonstrate that branches grown on the substratum had significantly higher skeletal density, measured using computerized tomography, and lower linear extension rates compared to water-column fragments. Calcification rates determined with buoyant weighing were not statistically different between the two grow-out methods, but did vary among coral genotypes. Whereas skeletal density and extension rates were plastic traits that depended on grow-out method, calcification rate was conserved. Our results show that the two rearing methods generate the same amount of calcium carbonate skeleton but produce colonies with different skeletal characteristics and suggest that there is genetically based variability in coral calcification performance.
|Plasticity in skeletal characteristics of nursery-raised staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis
|St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
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