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Stony Coral Spawning Hubs in the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area: Phase I and II

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David S. Gilliam, Joana Figueiredo, Cassie M. VanWynen, Hope E. Hefley

The goal of this project was to establish the first spawning hub sites in the Coral ECA. Spawning hubs promote species recovery by facilitating recruitment driven by natural sexual reproduction and by providing sites where efficient spawning observations and gamete capture can occur. Spawning observations advance our understanding of stony coral reproductive ecology while gamete capture supports our ability to rear larvae in land-based nurseries furthering species recovery opportunities. This final project report includes both phase I and II efforts and data summaries (spawning hub site selection and colony relocation, respectively). The scope of phase II included the addition of relocated Orbicella faveolata, Diploria labyrinthiformis, and Pseudodiploria strigosa colonies to the same established spawning hubs. These species have been identified as highly susceptible to SCTLD.

Four relocated P. clivosa colonies at the North hub that were recorded with disease related recent mortality during the phase I, 3-month monitoring event. All four of the colonies recovered. Three of these four colonies had predation-related recent mortality (all less than 3% of the colony) recorded prior to disease, but there were 26 additional North hub colonies with recent mortality attributed to predation that were not observed with disease. Twenty-nine South hub colonies with recent mortality attributed to predation were recorded during at least one monitoring event, but no colonies had disease-related recent mortality. Disease-related recent mortality was recorded on one reference colony in each hub during the 1-month monitoring event, but both colonies recovered with no recent mortality recorded during the 3-month event. There does not appear to be information recorded during the monitoring events that would permit identification of drivers associated with these four colonies that were diseased. These colonies may have been diseased when collected but had no visual signs. The final result is that there was no significant loss to the relocated or reference colonies associated with disease during either project phase.

Last Modified:
October 18, 2021 - 4:19pm

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