The effects of partial mortality on the fecundity of three common Caribbean corals
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The recent intensification of human disturbances in the Caribbean has increased the prevalence of partial mortality on coral colonies. Partial mortality can change colony size by directly shrinking colonies or by splitting colonies into fragments. A reduction in colony size can also adversely affect fecundity and fitness as internal resources shift away from reproduction toward colony maintenance. This study aimed to determine whether three Caribbean coral species, Siderastrea siderea, Montastraea faveolata, and Diploria strigosa, along the reef tract in Puerto Morelos, Mexico (20o52′N, 86o51′W), continued to dedicate resources to reproduction when colonies were fragmented to pre-maturation size. Contrary to expectations, eggs were found in colonies that were smaller than the maturation size and had been subjected to partial mortality. The continued dedication of resources toward reproduction, even in the smallest colonies, suggests that resource trade-offs away from reproduction are not as rigid as previously suggested in stressed corals.
KeywordsColony Size Coral Species Coral Population Large Coloni Small Coloni
We extend our thanks to Roberto Iglesias-Prieto, Anastazia Banaszak, and Robin Smith for extensive support throughout the field- sampling process. We also thank Sandra van Woesik for editorial comments. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnologia is gratefully acknowledged for logistic support, including the use of laboratory space, boats, and equipment. This research was supported by a grant from the World Bank and Global Environmental Facility (GEF) through the Coral Reef Targeted Research (CRTR) and Capacity Building for Management program and was partially supported by the Hoover Foundation.
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