MEPS 335:233-236 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps335233

Discernment of sexual recruits is not critical for assessing population recovery of Acropora palmata

R. Grober-Dunsmore1,*, V. Bonito2, T. K. Frazer3

1National Marine Protected Areas Center Science Institute, 110 Shaffer Rd., Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA
2Reef Explorer Fiji, Box 183, Korolevu, Fiji Islands
3University of Florida, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 7922 NW 71st St., Gainesville, Florida 32653, USA

ABSTRACT: Miller et al. (2007; Mar Ecol Prog Ser 335:227–231, this volume) dispute the ability of visual surveys to distinguish between colonies of Acropora palmata formed by sexual and asexual processes. They argue that approaches that do not consider genetic diversity are not appropriate for assessing population recovery. Visual surveys are clearly not reliable for distinguishing colony origin; however, the significance of the findings in Miller et al. (2007) for assessment of population recovery is not clear. While genetic diversity may indeed be important for population survival and species persistence, our study (Grober-Dunsmore et al. 2006; Mar Ecol Prog Ser 321:123–132) assessed population recovery by temporally sampling demographic attributes which are critical for ecosystem function (e.g. topographic complexity) over shorter ecological timescales. Ideally, genetic studies should be contextualized with demographic and other environmental and ecological data to improve our understanding of processes that lead to population persistence. However, without having historical genetic data from A. palmata populations, or being able to distinguish which genets are more or less resilient, or being able to identify source–sink dynamics, genetic tools presently offer limited information for assessing population recovery of A. palmata.

KEY WORDS: Acroporid · Caribbean Sea · Clones · Microsatellites · Recruitment

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