Effects of delayed settlement on post-settlement growth and survival of scleractinian coral larvae

Graham, Erin M., Baird, Andrew H., Willis, Bette L., and Connolly, Sean R. (2013) Effects of delayed settlement on post-settlement growth and survival of scleractinian coral larvae. Oecologia, 173 (2). pp. 431-438.

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Demographic connectivity requires both the dispersal of individuals between sub-populations, and their subsequent contribution to population dynamics. For planktonic, non-feeding marine larvae, the capacity to delay settlement enables greater dispersal distances, but the energetic cost of delayed settlement has been shown to adversely impact post-settlement fitness in several taxa. Here, we assess whether delayed settlement influences mortality rates or growth rates for the first 6 weeks following settlement of the scleractinian coral, Acropora tenuis. Coral larvae that were settled at 2, 4, and 6 weeks after spawning, and then deployed in the field, showed negligible effects of delayed settlement on post-settlement survival and time to initial budding for colony formation. Between-cohort differences in budding rate appeared to be explained by temporal variation in the post-settlement acquisition of zooxanthellae. The potential for coral larvae to remain in the pelagic zone for increased periods of time with little to no effect on post-settlement survival and growth suggests that the capacity for delayed settlement is likely to have meaningful demographic consequences for broadcast-spawning reef-building corals, and that the predicted trade-off between delayed settlement and post-settlement fitness is less applicable to reef-building scleractinian corals than other taxa with non-feeding larvae.

Item ID: 29301
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: coral reefs, dispersal, connectivity, population dynamics, post-settlement processes
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2013 01:31
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0606 Physiology > 060603 Animal Physiology Systems @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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