Evaluating causes of transplant stress in fragments of Acropora Palmata used for coral reef restoration

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Coral transplanting is an increasingly common approach for the restoration of degraded coral reefs. The success of this approach depends on the level of stress induced by collecting and transporting coral fragments to the restoration site, and on the possible cost of acclimation to conditions at the restoration site (transplant shock). Storm-generated fragments of Acropora palmata (lamarck, 1812) from two source populations were transplanted to a common restoration site in the British virgin islands. We tested for transplant shock in 2010 by comparing the extent of bleaching, and the extent and cause of tissue loss, in three groups of corals: (1) new transplants, (2) non-transplants that were reattached at the source sites, and (3) established transplants that had been transplanted to the restoration site 2 yrs previously. After 2 wks, new transplants displayed greater tissue loss (percent of tissue recently dead) and bleaching (percent of tissue bleached) than both other groups. New transplants were affected by disease (white syndrome) more frequently than non-transplants or established transplants. Transplant-induced bleaching caused a slight reduction in growth and survival after 3 mo, but no carry-over effects were detectable after 1 yr, perhaps due to the impact of a hurricane that caused substantial mortality of all corals. Because transplanting induced bleaching and symptoms of white syndrome, our results indicate that transplanted corals should be carefully handled and monitored for symptoms of disease. © 2012 Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science of the University of Myami.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Bulletin of Marine Science