Revista de Biología Tropical
versión ISSN 0034-7744
WILLIAMS, D. E y MILLER, M. W. Morphology offers no clues to asexual vs. sexual origin of small Acropora cervicornis (Scleractinia: Acroporidae) colonies. Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2006, vol.54, suppl.3, pp. 145-151. ISSN 0034-7744.
Sexual recruitment of the staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, is accepted to be very rare. Instead, these branching corals proliferate through fragmentation leading to dense mono-specific and possibly monoclonal stands. For acroporid corals, which have suffered drastic population declines, dominance of asexual reproduction results in low levels of genotypic diversity and limited ability to re-colonize extirpated areas. Small colonies with a single encrusting, symmetrical base, and few incipient branches are frequently presumed to be the result of a settled planula (i.e. sexual reproduction). Here, we show that colonies fitting this description (i.e., presumed sexual recruits) can result from asexual fragmentation. Acropora cervicornis colonies (~20 cm diameter) were tagged and observed over eighteen months. In several cases, colony offshoots fused with the adjacent substrate forming secondary disc-like attachment points. Following natural fragmentation, these discs of tissue became separated from the original colony, and were observed to heal and give rise to smaller colonies with striking similarity to the expected morphology of a sexual recruit. Thus, presuming a colony is a sexual recruit based on appearance is unreliable and may lead to inflated expectations of genetic diversity among populations. The accurate assessment of recruitment and genetic diversity is crucial to predicting the recovery potential of these imperiled and ecologically irreplaceable reef corals. Rev. Biol. Trop. 54 (Suppl. 3): 145-151. Epub 2007 Jan. 15.
Palabras llave : recruitment; fragmentation; staghorn coral; clonal; colony; Acropora cervicornis.