How Quickly do Fragments of Coral “Self-Attach” after Transplantation?
Article first published online: 6 AUG 2009
© 2009 Society for Ecological Restoration International
Volume 19, Issue 2, pages 234–242, March 2011
How to Cite
Guest, J. R., Dizon, R. M., Edwards, A. J., Franco, C. and Gomez, E. D. (2011), How Quickly do Fragments of Coral “Self-Attach” after Transplantation?. Restoration Ecology, 19: 234–242. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2009.00562.x
- Issue published online: 6 AUG 2009
- Article first published online: 6 AUG 2009
- coral fragmentation;
- coral reef;
- coral transplantation;
- reef restoration;
Transplantation of coral fragments is seen as a potential method to rapidly restore coral cover to areas of degraded reef; however, considerable research is still needed to assess the effectiveness of coral transplantation as a viable reef restoration tool. Initially, during restoration efforts, coral transplants are attached artificially. Self-attachment (i.e., growth of coral tissue onto the substrate) provides a more secure and lasting bond, thus knowledge about self-attachment times for corals is of importance to reef restoration. While it is known that coral fragments may generate new tissue and bond to substrata within a few weeks of transplantation, surprisingly little is known about the speed of self-attachment for most species. Two independent experiments were carried out to examine the self-attachment times of 12 scleractinian and one non-scleractinian coral species to a natural calcium carbonate substrate. The first experiment examined times to self-attachment in 11 species of differing morphologies from seven families over approximately 7 months, whereas the second experiment examined three fast-attaching Acropora species over approximately 1 month. In the first experiment, the branching species Acropora muricata had a significantly faster self-attachment time compared to all other species, while Echinopora lamellosa had the slowest self-attachment time. For the second experiment, A. muricata was significantly slower to self-attach than Acropora hyacinthus (tabular) and Acropora digitifera (corymbose-digitate). The results suggest that a combination of factors including growth rates, growth form and life history may determine how quickly fragments of coral species self-attach after fragmentation and transplantation.