Recruitment and mortality of the temperate coral Cladocora caespitosa: implications for the recovery of endangered populations
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- Kersting, D.K., Teixidó, N. & Linares, C. Coral Reefs (2014) 33: 403. doi:10.1007/s00338-014-1144-3
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Long-lived species are characterized by low recruitment and mortality. In these species, longevity buffers low recruitment, but when catastrophic disturbances alter mortality, recruitment becomes critical for population recovery. In this study, we assessed basic biological traits—recruitment, post-settlement growth, and the mortality of juvenile corals—and related these factors to the adult mortality of one of the most important populations of the Mediterranean reef-building coral Cladocora caespitosa over a period of 6 yr. Adult mortality and recruitment rates were low (~1 % and 0.30 recruits m−2 yr−1, respectively), whereas the juvenile colony mortality was comparatively high (29 % in the smallest size-class, <5 polyps). The low recruitment rates will hardly balance the recurrent climate-related mortality that has affected this population. Conservation plans and inclusion in the protection lists are urgently needed, given the escalating threats and slow dynamics of this species.