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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 682:237-242 (2022)  -  DOI:

Growth and survival dynamics of mesophotic coral juveniles in shallow reefs

Netanel Kramer1,*, Gal Eyal2,3, Raz Tamir1,4, Yossi Loya1

1School of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
2ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
3The Mina & Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 5290002, Israel
4The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences of Eilat, Eilat 88103, Israel
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: As many degrading shallow reefs suffer from recruitment failure, mesophotic coral ecosystems have been suggested as a potential source of coral propagules promoting the recolonization of these reefs. However, whether mesophotic coral populations can repopulate shallower reefs is currently debatable. Here, we compared the response of corals settled on mesophotic (50 m) tiles and transplanted to the shallow reef (10 m), at a Nature Reserve and an unprotected site in the northern Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba, Red Sea. Mortality was substantially higher for the transplanted corals, as compared with their shallow counterparts living on the tiles, with over half of the transplanted juveniles dying 1 yr post-transplantation. Transplanted corals exhibited a 24% higher survivorship at the MPA site. We further explored the survival and growth rates of the 4 most common transplanted coral genera (Cyphastrea, Porites, Psammocora, and Stylophora). An inverse relationship between survival and growth was evident among the transplanted coral genera; Porites and Stylophora demonstrated similar net growth rates to those of their shallow-water counterparts but lower post-transplantation survivorship, while Cyphastrea and Psammocora showed the opposite trend. Although this study demonstrates the reduced plasticity of mesophotic coral juveniles to cope with shallow-water conditions, it nonetheless offers some potential to facilitate shallow-reef recovery.

KEY WORDS: Mesophotic coral ecosystems · MCEs · Coral juveniles · Transplantation · Acclimatization · Red Sea

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Cite this article as: Kramer N, Eyal G, Tamir R, Loya Y (2022) Growth and survival dynamics of mesophotic coral juveniles in shallow reefs. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 682:237-242.

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