MEPS 197:209-215 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps197209

Lesion regeneration in the branching coral Acropora palmata: effects of colonization, colony size, lesion size, and lesion shape

Diego Lirman*

Center for Marine and Environmental Analyses, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Cswy, Miami, Florida 33149, USA

ABSTRACT: The regeneration of lesions caused by the fragmentation of Acropora palmata colonies was examined in the northern Florida Reef Tract, USA. The recovery of A. palmata lesions followed a negative exponential model. Lesion regeneration was influenced by the initial size and perimeter of lesions, but was not affected by the presence of colonizers or the size of the colonies or fragments bearing the lesions. Significant differences in regeneration rates were found among small (0-5 cm2), medium (5-10 cm2), and large (10-20 cm2) lesions. The largest lesions (>20 cm2) did not show a significant recovery over time. When the total area recovered during the first 30 d was normalized to initial perimeter length, both small and large lesions regenerated similar amounts of tissue. However, closure rates (the rate of movement of the growing lip towards the center of the lesion) were significantly faster for small lesions (7.3 [SE = 1.3] mm mo-1) compared to medium (4.9 [0.4] mm mo-1) and large (4.3 [0.3] mm mo-1) lesions. Results of this study support previous studies suggesting that the regeneration process is sustained by a limited, initial amount of energy that may be determined by the extent of damage experienced by the colony.

KEY WORDS: Coral lesions · Lesion regeneration · Acropora palmata · Coral fragmentation · Lesion size and shape

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