Ex situ co culturing of the sea urchin, Mespilia globulus and the coral Acropora millepora enhances early post-settlement survivorship
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AbstractReef restoration efforts, utilising sexual coral propagation need up-scaling to have ecologically meaningful impact. Post-settlement survival bottlenecks, in part due to competitive benthic algae interactions should be addressed, to improve productivity for these initiatives. Sea urchins are keystone grazers in reef ecosystems, yet feeding behaviour of adults causes physical damage and mortality to developing coral spat. To investigate if microherbivory can be utilised for co-culture, we quantitatively assessed how varying densities of juvenile sea urchins Mespilia globulus (Linnaeus, 1758), reared alongside the coral Acropora millepora (Ehrenberg, 1834) effected survival and growth of coral recruits. Spawning of both species were induced ex situ. A comparison of A. millepora spat reared in three M. globulus densities (low 16.67 m−2, medium 37.50 m−2, high 75.00 m−2) and a non-grazed control indicated coral survival is significantly influenced by grazing activity (p < 0.001) and was highest in the highest density treatment (39.65 ± 10.88%, mean ± s.d). Urchin grazing also significantly (p < 0.001) influenced coral size (compared to non-grazing control), with colonies in the medium and high-densities growing the largest (21.13 ± 1.02 mm & 20.80 ± 0.82, mean ± s.e.m). Increased urchin density did however have a negative influence on urchin growth, a result of limited food availability.
CitationCraggs, J., Guest, J., Bulling, M. and Sweet, M. (2019). 'Ex situ co culturing of the sea urchin, Mespilia globulus and the coral Acropora millepora enhances early post-settlement survivorship'. Scientific Reports, 9, pp. 1-12. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-49447-9.
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC
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