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Coral Transplantation: Regeneration and Growth of Acropora Fragments in a Nursery

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Address correspondence to K. Soong, e-mail keryea@mail.nsysu.edu.tw.

Abstract

Abstract Coral reef degradation has been widely reported for the past 20 years. Because the recovery rate is usually low, various methods of restoration have been explored in different regions of the world. Among the effective and commonly used methods to restore coral communities is the transplantation of coral colonies or fragments. In this investigation fragments of Acropora pulchra were used in a semiprotected nursery in southern Taiwan between 1996 and 1998 to test, in situ, the possible effects of different factors on the generation of new branches and the initial skeletal extension rates of transplants. The variables under study here were the origin and length of the fragments, their new orientation, presence of tissue injury, and position in the fragment. All these factors were found to make a difference in either one or both aspects of coral growth (i.e., branching frequency and skeletal extension rate). These two factors clearly determine the success rate of a small fragment developing into a large colony that has a much higher probability to survive and grow on its own. It is now obvious that the efficiency of coral generation through fragment culture can be enhanced if the variables examined here are taken into consideration. Once coral colonies are formed, they can be fragmented again to generate more corals or can be transplanted to a suitable site.

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