Top of Page
Skip main navigation

Reproductive Behavior of Nursery Reared Staghorn Coral: Documenting Outplant Success

Grant Winners

  • David S. Gilliam, Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Nicole Fogarty, Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Kathryn B. Correia, BS – Oceanographic Center
  • Elizabeth Larson, MS – Oceanographic Center


  • Richard E Dodge, PhD. – Oceanographic Center


Award Winners

Coral reefs support some of the world's most diverse and environmentally and economically productive habitats. However, these valuable ecosystems have been rapidly declining throughout the world. Due to this rapid decline active reef restoration measures are receiving greater attention. Throughout the Caribbean the staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) has been identified as a high priority stony coral species in need of active restoration to promote population recovery. Acropora cervicornis is a foundation species on Caribbean coral reefs but has experienced dramatic population declines to a level where natural population recovery is in question. In response, A.cervicornis was listed as a threatened species under the US Endangered Species Act in 2006. As a listed species, management agencies are required to identify restoration activities designed to facilitate recovery. Coral nurseries have been identified as a potentially productive restoration method. Analogous to terrestrial plant nurseries, small branches (fragments) from native donor A.cervicornis colonies are grown in an offshore nursery. As the corals grow in the nursery, fragments or entire colonies can be outplanted (transplanted) to the natural reef (outplant site). The production of nursery reared colonies promotes population recovery by increasing colony abundance and, more importantly, by reducing the spatial gap between populations increasing successful sexual reproduction. Nursery reared colonies have been shown to have a high rate of survivorship, but their sexual reproductive capacity is not well understood. Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is uniquely positioned to address this information gap. The NSU Oceanographic Center manages an A cervicornis nursery and transplantation (outplanting) effort offshore Broward County, Florida. We proposed to address this information need by determining the fecundity of nursery reared A.cervicornis colonies and visually documenting spawning activity.

Return to top of page