BULLETIN OF MARINE SCIENCE. 00(0):000–000. 0000
Bullen of Marine Science
© 2011 Rosensel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
of the University of Miami
Bulletin of Marine Science
© 2016 Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science of
the University of Miami Portraits of Marine Science
Bull Mar Sci. 92(2):000–000. 2016
Four-year-old Caribbean Acropora colonies reared
from eld-collected gametes are sexually mature
VF Chamberland 1, 3, 4 *, D Petersen 1, 2, KRW Latijnhouwers 4,
S Snowden 1, 5, B Mueller 3, MJA Vermeij 3, 4
1 SECORE Intern ational, c/o Colu mbus Zoo and Aquar ium, 9990 Riversid e Drive, Powell, Ohi o 43065.
2 SECORE International, Arensburgstraße 40, Bremen, Germany.
3 Carmabi Foundation, Piscaderabaai z/n, Willemstad, Curaçao.
4 Aquatic Mi crobiology, Inst itute for Biodive rsity and Ecosyst em Dynamics, U niversity of Amst erdam, Science Par k 700,
1098 XH Amster dam, Netherla nds.
5 Pittsbu rgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium , One Wild Place, Pi ttsburgh, Penn sylvania 15206.
* Corresponding author email: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Rehabilitating populations of Caribbean coral species that have declined in recent
decades has become a management priority throughout the region, stimulating the
development of new methodologies to artiﬁcially reseed degraded reefs. Rearing lar-
vae of ecologically important coral species appears a particularly attractive method
to aid the recovery of degraded populations because genetic recombination could
yield new genotypes better capable of coping with the altered conditions on modern
Caribbean reefs. Well-developed elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata Lamarck, 1816)
populations form dense thickets that contribute to the maintenance of healthy and
productive reefs by providing shelter to a variety of other reef organisms (Gladfelter
and Gladfelter 1978). After >95% of A. palmata populations were decimated by a
disease beginning in the mid-1970s, this species was listed as critically endangered
under the Red List of reatened Species (IUCN 2013) and restoration eﬀorts were
initiated throughout the region to assist its recovery (Young et al. 2012). In 2011, we
collected gametes from eight A. palmata colonies in situ oﬀ Curaçao, which were
subsequently cross-fertilized to generate larvae. Competent larvae were settled on
clay tiles (Panel A) and reared in a ﬂow-through land-based nursery for one year
(Panels B–C), after which they were outplanted to a breakwater at 2–5 m depth
Fas t Track
BULLETIN OF MARINE SCIENCE. VOL 00, NO 0. 0000106 Bulletin of Marine Science. Vol 92, No 2. 2016
(Panel D) [refer to Chamberland et al. (2015) for details on methodology]. Seven out
of nine outplanted colonies survived and continued to grow in situ (Panels D–E),
reaching a size of 30–40 cm diameter and 20–30 cm height after 4 yrs (Panel F). On
8 and 10 September, 2015, nine and 11 d after the full moon, two colonies were ob-
served releasing gametes between 155 and 175 min after sunset (Panels G–H). is is
the ﬁrst time that an endangered Caribbean Acropora coral species was raised from
larvae and grown to sexual maturity in the ﬁeld. Indeed, only one other study has
documented age and colony size at reproductive onset in a broadcast spawning scler-
actinian coral reared from larvae (Baria et al. 2012). e relatively short time until
onset of spawning (≤4 yrs) observed for A. palmata shows that recovery of degraded
coral populations by enhancing natural recruitment rates may be practicable if out-
planted colonies are able to rapidly contribute to the natural pool of larvae.
is research was supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme
(FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no 244161 (Future of Reefs in a Changing Environ-
ment), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Green Founda-
tion, the Walton Family Foundation, TUI Cruises/ Futouris e.V., the Clyde and Connie Wood-
burn Foundation, and the Montei Foundation. We are grateful to the Curaçao Sea Aquarium
staﬀ and all participants from the 2011 and 2012 editions of the SECORE workshop for their
assistance in the ﬁeld.
Baria MVB, Villanueva RD, Guest JR. 2012. Spawning of three year-old Acropora millepora cor-
als reared from larvae in northwestern Philippines. Bull Mar Sci. 88:61–62. http://dx.doi.
Chamberland VF, Vermeij MJA, Brittsan M, Carl M, Schick M, Snowden S, Schrier A, Petersen
D. 2015. Restoration of critically endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) popula-
tions using larvae reared from wild-caught gametes. Glob Ecol Cons. 4:526–553. http://
Gladfelter WB, Gladfelter EH. 1978. Fish community structure as a function of habitat struc-
ture on West Indian patch reefs. Rev Biol Trop. 26(1):65–84.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 2013. IUCN Red List of reatened
Species. Version 2013.2. Accessed August 2015. Available from: http://www.iucnredlist.org
Young CN, Schopmeyer SA, Lirman D. 2012. A review of reef restoration and coral propaga-
tion using the threatened genus Acropora in the Caribbean and western Atlantic. Bull Mar
Sci. 88(4):1075–1098. http://dx.doi.org/10.5343/bms.2011.1143
Date Submitted: 23 October, 2015.
Date Accepted: 4 January, 2016.
Available Online: 28 January, 2016.