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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 121:203-209 (1995)  -  doi:10.3354/meps121203

Age-related deterioration of a physiological function in the branching coral Acropora palmata

Meesters EH, Bak RPM

Regeneration potential of the branching coral Acropora palmata (Lamarck, 1816) was assessed at distances of 3, 12, and 66 cm from the branch tip. Artificial lesions (colony surface wounds) were made on 3 randomly selected branches of 21 colonies and regeneration was followed over 30 d. Regeneration was measured as tissue regrowth (mm2 d-1) during the first 6 d of regeneration and as the slope of an exponential regression of lesion surface area through time. Both measurements showed that regenerative potential could be fitted to an exponential function, decreasing from tip to base. Regeneration capability decreases rapidly in the first 25 cm from the distal end and only slowly beyond. This decrease in regeneration capability appears to be related to polyp age and constitutes the first report of potential senescence in corals. There are direct consequences for population dynamics in this branching Acropora species. Invasion of lesions by excavating sponges will occur more in proximal portions of the colony because the slow regeneration potential in this area results in long-term skeletal exposure. This may promote the fragmentation of branches with a length sufficient to ensure a high survivorship.

Regeneration . Modular organisms . Corals . Ecology . Damage . Age . Senescence . Growth . Scleractinia

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