THE UNLIKELY PERSISTENCE OF RESTORED STAGHORN CORAL (ACROPORA CERVICORNIS) POPULATIONS IN A WARMING WORLD: LESSONS LEARNED FROM A MODELLING APPROACH
Low-tech coral propagation has become critical for the recovery of depleted populations. But little is still known about restored population demographic dynamics in response to recurrent acute disturbances such as massive bleaching and disease outbreaks. Stochastic modeling was used to address on a 2-year old restored population of Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) in Puerto Rico the impact of the 2005 massive coral bleaching and simultaneous white band disease and shutdown reaction outbreak. An initial cohort of 105 colonies of three size stages (<25 cm, 25-100 cm, >100 cm) was out-planted and monitored between 2003 and 2005. Three independent matrices were analyzed based on disease prevalence: 1) low disease (<7%); 2) high disease (36%); 3) massive bleaching + high disease (78%). In the absence of continuous input of new fragments to the restored population, even under low disease prevalence, the population will go into extinction within less than a decade. But adding 1,000 + Nt+1 small colonies each year will improve abundance from 1,000 in t=0 to 35,980 in 25 y, even under recurrent bleaching and disease events. When adding the same amount of medium colonies, abundance increased to 51,382 in 25 y. Elasticity analysis showed that in the absence of major disturbance survival of small colonies is critical. But under disturbance, survival of medium colonies becomes the critical stage. This suggest the importance of maintaining a continuous supply of medium corals to restored populations in order to maintain a dynamic stability under current ocean warming trends.
Hernandez-Delgado, E. A., University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mercado-Molina, A. E., Sociedad Ambiente Marino, Puerto Rico, email@example.com
Suleiman-Ramos, S. E., Sociedad Ambiente Marino, Puerto Rico, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: 301 B
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