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Experimental fusion in atlantic acropora spp scleractinia


, : Experimental fusion in atlantic acropora spp scleractinia. Marine Biology Letters 3(2): 67-72

Fragments of colonies of branched Acropora spp. depend for survival on their stability, which is strongly enhanced through cementation of the fragments to hard substrata. On Atlantic reefs a major part of the hard substrata available after fragmentation by disturbances are fragments of conspecific or congeneric colonies. The reactions within and between colonies of A. palmata (Lamarck) and between A. palmata and A. cervicornis (Lamarck) were studied in situ. Isografts showed confluent tissues and wholly fused skeletons within 10 wk. Allo- and xenografts displayed simple overgrowth of fragments and branches. Although the tissues remained discontinuous and fusion of skeletons was not complete, a significant degree of cementation was seen. No antagonistic reactions were found. The absence of strong antagonistic reactions, mechanisms employed in spatial competition, has adaptive value for branched corals in this shallow water habitat. Colonies in A. palmata populations are at least partly derived from asexual propagules.

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