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Keywords:

  • coral transplantation;
  • fragmentation;
  • lagoon environment;
  • Porites cylindrica;
  • reef restoration

Abstract

With many coral reef areas being degraded whether by anthropogenic or natural causes, a search is on for resilient species of corals that can restore coral cover where needed, if coral reefs are to continue to provide adequate ecosystem services. A series of experiments were undertaken in two sites with different environmental attributes and substrates in a lagoonal area in the northwestern Philippines to test the potentials of a local species, Porites cylindrica, for reef rehabilitation. With the use of asexual fragmentation of donor colonies, different treatments were tested, particularly to determine if the species would survive on different substrates, that is, solid, massive versus digitate/anastomosing, dead colonies. The results after nearly 2 years of the experiment were extraordinarily successful, with survival of transplants ranging from a high of 98% to a low of 80% of colonies, resulting in extensive coral cover on both original and new or different substrate from the original. A subsequent observation after another 16 months showed the coral cover to have been complete or nearly complete in the experimental plots, with the transplanted colonies fusing, and with evident reef fish communities where there were none before. Had there been no intervention, it is highly likely that the reefs would have remained in a degraded state.