[Coral-List] Coral life history differences determine the refugium potential of a remote Caribbean reef

sarah davies daviessw at gmail.com
Sat Jul 9 06:55:39 EDT 2016

Greetings Coral-Listers,

Our new manuscript entitled "Coral life history differences determine the
refugium potential of a remote Caribbean reef" is now available on the
preprint server bioRxiv.


Remote populations can influence connectivity and may serve as refugia from
climate change. Here, we investigated two reef-building corals (*Pseudodiploria
strigosa* and *Orbicella franksi*) from the Flower Garden Banks (FGB) – the
most isolated, high-latitude Caribbean reef system that retains high coral
cover. We characterized coral size frequency distributions, quantified
larval mortality rates and onset of competence, estimated larval
production, and created detailed biophysical models incorporating these
parameters to evaluate source-sink dynamics from 2009 to 2012. Mortality
rates were similar across species but competency differed dramatically: *P.
strigosa *was capable of metamorphosis within 2.5 days post fertilization
(dpf), while *O. franksi *were not competent until >20dpf and remained
competent up to 120dpf. Despite these differences, models demonstrated that
larvae of both types were similarly successful in reseeding the FGB.
Nevertheless, corals with shorter pelagic larval durations (PLD), such as *P.
strigosa*, were highly isolated from the rest of the Caribbean, while long
PLD corals, such as *O. franksi*, could export larvae to distant northern
Caribbean reefs. These results suggest that FGB coral populations are
self-sustaining and highlight the potential of long PLD corals, such as
endangered *Orbicella*, to act as larval sources for other degraded
Caribbean reefs.


Sarah W. Davies M.Sc. Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Marine Sciences
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
daviessw at gmail.com

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