Publications

Holstein et al. 2015


scientific article | Sci Rep | open access Open access small aa108fa7f478951c693af64a05bc4b46e6711dbb69a20809512a129d4d6b870f

Fertile fathoms: Deep reproductive refugia for threatened shallow corals

Holstein DM, Smith TB, Gyory J, Paris CB

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Abstract

The persistence of natural metapopulations may depend on subpopulations that exist at the edges of species ranges, removed from anthropogenic stress. Mesophotic coral ecosystems (30-150 m) are buffered from disturbance by depth and distance, and are potentially massive reservoirs of coral diversity and fecundity; yet we know little about the reproductive capabilities of their constituent species and the potential for these marginal environments to influence patterns of coral reef persistence. We investigated the reproductive performance of the threatened depth-generalist coral Orbicella faveolata over the extent of its vertical range to assess mesophotic contributions to regional larval pools. Over equal habitat area, mesophotic coral populations were found to produce over an order of magnitude more eggs than nearby shallow populations. Positive changes with depth in both population abundance and polyp fecundity contributed to this discrepancy. Relative larval pool contributions of deeper living corals will likely increase as shallow habitats further degrade due to climate change and local habitat degradation. This is a compelling example of the potential for marginal habitat to be critical to metapopulation persistence as reproductive refugia.

Research sites

10.1038   srep12407
Keywords
Meta-data (pending validation)
Depth range
5- 40 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
92 x (total of 6030 words)

Fields
Connectivity Reproduction

Research focus
Scleractinia (Hard Corals)

Locations
US Virgin Islands

Research platforms
Diving (unspecified)
Author profiles
Daniel Holstein ( 5 pubs)
Tyler Smith ( 20 pubs)