[Coral-List] New Publication: Density Dependence Drives Habitat Production and Survivorship of Acropora cervicornis Used for Restoration on a Caribbean Coral Reef

Mark Ladd markcladd at gmail.com
Tue Dec 13 10:43:23 EST 2016

Hello Coral-listers,

I'd like to draw your attention to our recent publication on the role of
density dependence in driving survivorship and habitat production of
restored *Acropora cervicornis*. The publication is open access at
Frontiers in Marine Science and available at:
Please feel free to be in contact with questions or comments.


Coral restoration is gaining traction as a viable strategy to help restore
degraded reefs. While the nascent field of coral restoration has rapidly
progressed in the past decade, significant knowledge gaps remain regarding
the drivers of restoration success that may impede our ability to
effectively restore coral reef communities. Here, we conducted a field
experiment to investigate the influence of coral density on the growth,
habitat production, and survival of corals outplanted for restoration. We
used nursery-raised colonies of *Acropora cervicornis* to experimentally
establish populations of corals with either 3, 6, 12, or 24 corals within 4m
2 plots, generating a gradient of coral densities ranging from 0.75 corals m
-2 to 12 corals m-2. After 13 months we found that density had a
significant effect on the growth, habitat production, and survivorship of
restored corals. We found that coral survivorship increased as colony
density decreased. Importantly, the signal of density dependent effects was
context dependent. Our data suggest that positive density dependent effects
influenced habitat production at densities of 3 corals m-2, but further
increases in density resulted in negative density dependent effects with
decreasing growth and survivorship of corals. These findings highlight the
importance of density dependence for coral restoration planning and
demonstrate the need to evaluate the influence of density for other coral
species used for restoration. Further work focused on the mechanisms
causing density dependence such as increased herbivory, rapid disease
transmission, or altered predation rates are important next steps to
advance our ability to effectively restore coral reefs.

*Mark Ladd*

PhD Student
Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology
University of California, Santa Barbara
UCSB Moorea Coral Reef LTER Graduate Student Representative

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