transplanting Acropora cytherea to MHI (fwd)

Ed Parnell parnell at
Tue Feb 20 21:23:02 EST 1996

---------- Forwarded message ---------- 
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 1996 16:17:37 -1000 (HST) 
From: Ed Parnell <parnell at> 
To: Bruce Carlson <carlson at> 
Subject: transplanting Acropora cytherea to MHI 

I saw your reply on the coral server list regarding the transplantation  
of corals for reef rehab.  In it you inferred that the ends probably  
wouldn't justify the means (i.e., too much effort).  However, I still  
wonder how Acropora cytherea would do in the Main Hawaiian Islands if  
transplanted from the North West Hawaiian Islands.  As you know, Acropora  
is a hardy, fecund, fragmenting, and most important of all, a fast  
growing species.  The lack of Holocene reef accretion in Hawaii could be  
due to the  
lack of just such a species.  Given the high energy, high disturbance  
regime of Hawaii, pioneering and fast growth seem to be required for  
resilience in the face of frequent disturbance.  Acropora fits this bill  
in addition to being resistant to wave energy such as seen in the NWHI  
where it is naturally common.  It just hasn't made its way to the MHI. 
The recent work of Clark and Edwards (1995; Coral Reefs, 14:201-213)  
demonstrate that mortality rates of transplanted acroporids was about  
50% after 28 months.  Given the fast growth and 50% return rates of Acropora  
they measured, doesn't it seem worthwhile to try it in the MHI.  The  
possible benefits over the next fifty years include: 
1)Production of reef that serves to: 
	a)enlarge coral habitat space for coral reef species 
	b)for fish this could mean higher biomass and therefore larger  
and safer fishing stocks 
	c)higher fish biomass could lead to increased herbivory rates on  
coral competing algae thereby leading to a an established healthy  
positive feedback coral community; N.B. the production of reef by  
Acropora could also enhance the biomass of other corals so the MHI reefs  
would not be monospecific.  Reef buildup provides vertical relief so  
recruiting larvae aren't quickly abraded by sand and debris as they are now 
	d)protect shorelines that may be eroded in the near future by  
storm waves in an ocean that's rising 
2)Enhance an important natural resource of this state that attracts  
tourist dollars. 

As you mentioned in your reply, the inertia to establish corals to  
rehabilitate/enhance reefs, if not regions, is immense.  But, it may be that  
Acropora got started in the MHI it would do quite well on its own seeding  
the region from a few strategically placed reefs. 

One could bring down parts of many colonies and transplant them to a  
protected area such as Kaneohe Bay.  After they are established and begin  
to reproduce locally, they become a local source of larvae for seeding  
larger and larger areas of K Bay.  The planulae could be collected over  
these reefs and in K Bay itself (since flushing rates are low).  These  
larvae could then be artificially recruited in culture and grown for a  
year (to miss hi juv. mort. rates) then transplanted to other areas of  
Oahu.  Fragments of the K Bay colonies could also be transplanted to  
other areas of Oahu. 

These may be grandiose ideas but I think some discussion is warranted and at  
least a transplanting pilot study should be done with A. cytherea here in  
Hawaii.  What do you think?  Would there be resistance to this idea by  
the public or reef scientists?  Have you already had this idea? 

Ed Parnell 

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