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Experimental data comparing two coral grow-out methods in nursery-raised Acropora cervicornis

February 15, 2017

Staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, is a threatened species and the primary focus of western Atlantic reef-restoration efforts to date. As part of the USGS Coral Reef Ecosystems Studies project (, we investigated skeletal characteristics of nursery-grown staghorn coral reared using two commonly used grow-out methods at Mote Tropical Research Laboratory?s offshore nursery. We compared linear extension, calcification rate, and skeletal density of nursery-raised A. cervicornis branches reared for six months either on blocks attached to substratum or hanging from monofilament line (on PVC ?trees?) in the water column. We demonstrate that branches grown on the substratum had significantly higher skeletal density, measured using computerized tomography (CT), and lower linear extension rates compared to water-column fragments. Calcification rates determined with buoyant weighing were not statistically different between the two grow-out methods, but did vary among coral genotypes. Whereas skeletal density and extension rates were plastic traits that depended on environment, calcification rate was conserved. Our results show that the two rearing methods generate the same amount of calcium-carbonate skeleton but produce colonies with different skeletal characteristics, and suggest that genetically based variability in coral-calcification performance exists. The data resulting from this experiment are provided in this data release and are interpreted in Kuffner et al. (2017).

Kuffner, I.B., Bartels, E., Stathakopoulos, A., Enochs, I.C., Kolodziej, G., Toth, L.T., and Manzello, D.P., 2017, Plasticity in skeletal characteristics of nursery-raised staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis: Coral Reefs 36: 679-684.

Publication Year 2017
Title Experimental data comparing two coral grow-out methods in nursery-raised Acropora cervicornis
DOI 10.5066/F7HH6H72
Authors Ilsa B. Kuffner, Erich Bartels, Anastasios Stathakopoulos, Ian C. Enochs, G. Kolodziej, Lauren T. Toth, Derek P Manzello
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center