Holstein et al. 2016

scientific article | PLoS ONE | open access Open access small aa108fa7f478951c693af64a05bc4b46e6711dbb69a20809512a129d4d6b870f

Depth-Independent Reproduction in the Reef Coral Porites astreoides from Shallow to Mesophotic Zones

Holstein DM, Smith TB, Paris CB

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Mesophotic coral ecosystems between 30–150 m may be important refugia habitat for coral reefs and associated benthic communities from climate change and coastal development. However, reduced light at mesophotic depths may present an energetic challenge to the successful reproduction of light-dependent coral organisms, and limit this refugia potential. Here, the relationship of depth and fecundity was investigated in a brooding depth-generalist scleractinian coral, Porites astreoides from 5–37 m in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) using paraffin tissue histology. Despite a trend of increasing planulae production with depth, no significant differences were found in mean peak planulae density between shallow, mid-depth and mesophotic sites. Differential planulae production over depth is thus controlled by P. astreoides coral cover, which peaks at 10 m and ~35 m in the USVI. These results suggest that mesophotic ecosystems are reproductive refuge for P. astreoides in the USVI, and may behave as refugia for P. astreoides metapopulations providing that vertical larval exchanges are viable.

Research sites

10.1371   journal.pone.0146068
Depth range
5- 37 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
51 x (total of 3575 words)

Connectivity Reproduction

Research focus
Scleractinia (Hard Corals)

US Virgin Islands

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