Colony growth of corals transplanted for restoration depends on their site of origin and environmental factors



Graham Forrester, Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA.



We determined that growth differences among coral fragments transplanted for restoration were influenced by both source population and environmental factors. In two common garden experiments, storm-generated fragments of Acropora palmata were transplanted from two source populations in the British Virgin Islands to a restoration site (a ‘common garden’) that lacked A. palmata. In the first experiment, colonies from different sources grew at different rates in the first year after transplanting, suggesting either genetic differences among source populations or enduring acclimation to conditions at the source site. No differences in growth among source populations were detected in the second common garden experiment. To isolate environmental effects on growth, we subdivided fragments from three source populations to create genetically identical pieces that were attached separately at both source and restoration sites. Genetically identical pieces from all source populations grew slightly faster at their source than at the restoration site, implying a subtle home-site advantage. Overall, our results suggest that matching environmental conditions at source and restoration sites may increase the success of restoration projects.