, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 793-804

Population dynamics of the mushroom coral Heliofungia actiniformis in the Spermonde Archipelago, South Sulawesi, Indonesia

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Abstract

The fungiid Heliofungia actiniformis is one of the most popular coral species in the Indonesian aquarium trade, yet information on the biology of this species is limited. H. actiniformis growth rates, population size–frequency distributions and the seasonality of recruitment rates were measured at three replicate sites in the Spermonde Archipelago, South Sulawesi. Growth and population models were applied to estimate coral ages, mortality rates and the size of maximum yield. Growth decreased linearly with polyp size. High numbers of attached polyps budded from clusters of stalks attached to the reef, with each cluster originating from the settlement of a sexually produced larva. Neither the settlement of sexual recruits, nor their asexual budding, showed seasonality. The overall population structure reflected the high mortality rates of young, attached polyps (Z = 0.5–0.6 yr−1), and the much lower mortalities of free-living individuals (Z = 0.05–0.08 yr−1). There were no statistically significant differences in overall mortality rates and the age–frequency distributions of polyps aged 0–15 years between the sites. Differences in the abundance of large H. actiniformis polyps at the three replicate sites were correlated with percent cover of coral rubble. The application of the Beverton and Holt model revealed the highest biomass per H. actiniformis recruit was 12 cm, corresponding to a polyp age of 20 years.

Communicated by Environment Editor Prof. Rob van Woesik