Consequences of fission in the coral Siderastrea siderea: growth rates of small colonies and clonal input to population structure
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Elahi, R. & Edmunds, P.J. Coral Reefs (2007) 26: 271. doi:10.1007/s00338-006-0190-x
- 155 Downloads
Colony age and size can be poorly related in scleractinian corals if colonies undergo fission to form smaller independent patches of living tissue (i.e., ramets), but the implications of this life-history characteristic are unclear. This study explored the ecological consequences of the potential discrepancy between size and age for a massive scleractinian, first by testing the effect of colony origin on the growth of small colonies, and second by quantifying the contribution of ramets to population structure. Using Siderastrea siderea in St. John (US Virgin Islands) as an experimental system, the analyses demonstrated that the growth of small colonies derived from sexual reproduction was 2.5-fold greater than that of small ramets which were estimated to be ≈100 years older based on the age of the parent colonies from which they split. Although fission can generate discrete colonies, which in the case of the study reef accounted for 42% of all colonies, it may depress colony success and reef accretion through lowered colony growth rates.