Sexual vs. asexual reproduction in an ecosystem engineer: the massive coral Montastraea annularis

Foster, Nicola L., Baums, Iliana B. and Mumby, Peter J. (2007) Sexual vs. asexual reproduction in an ecosystem engineer: the massive coral Montastraea annularis. Journal of Animal Ecology, 76 2: 384-391. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2006.01207.x


Author Foster, Nicola L.
Baums, Iliana B.
Mumby, Peter J.
Title Sexual vs. asexual reproduction in an ecosystem engineer: the massive coral Montastraea annularis
Journal name Journal of Animal Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0021-8790
1365-2656
Publication date 2007-03-01
Year available 2007
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2006.01207.x
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 76
Issue 2
Start page 384
End page 391
Total pages 8
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Language eng
Abstract Long-lived sedentary organisms with a massive morphology are often assumed to utilize a storage effect whereby the persistence of a small group of adults can maintain the population when sexual recruitment fails. However, employing storage effects could prove catastrophic if, under changing climatic conditions, the time period between favourable conditions becomes so prolonged that the population cannot be sustained solely be sexual recruitment. When a species has multiple reproductive options, a rapidly changing environment may favour alternative asexual means of propagation. Here, we revisit the importance of asexual dispersal in a massive coral subject to severe climate-induced disturbance. Montastraea annularis is a major framework-builder of Caribbean coral reefs but its survival is threatened by the increasing cover of macroalgae that prevents settlement of coral larvae. To estimate levels of asexual recruitment within populations of M. annularis , samples from three sites in Honduras were genotyped using four, polymorphic microsatellite loci. A total of 114 unique genets were identified with 8% consisting of two or more colonies and an exceptionally large genet at the third site comprising 14 colonies. At least 70% of multicolony genets observed were formed by physical breakage, consistent with storm damage. Our results reveal that long-lived massive corals can propagate using asexual methods even though sexual strategies predominate.
Keyword disturbance
hurricanes
microsatellites
population structure
scleractinian coral
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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Created: Wed, 24 Nov 2010, 00:31:09 EST