The Transplantation of Scleractinian Corals as Applicable to Reef Rehabilitation

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Second Advisor

David Gilliam


Coral transplantation has been used for reef rehabilitation, colony movement from eminent danger, and for experimentation purposes. Project success has primarily been measured through percent survivorship and growth rates post-transplantation. Transplant survivorship and growth rates have varied with the use of different species, size, and growth forms. Generally, massive colonies have experienced high survivorship. Survivorship of branching corals is more dependent on the size of the transplant and environmental conditions at the recipient site (e.g. wave action). Environmental factors, particularly turbidity and resuspension of bottom sediments, have a strong influence on mortality, while high wave energy often results in transplant dislodgement. Identification of factors affecting mortality and growth is important for success as transplantation procedures (breakage, handling, and transportation) may stress the transplant. Transplantation's role in the rehabilitation of a degraded coral reef ecosystem suffering mechanical damage has been debated. Justification for the use of transplantation lies in the development of a cost/benefit analysis. Cost is defined as effort, monetary requirement, and temporary damage to donor site. Benefit is defined as immediate coral repopulation and possible future repopulation through recruitment, in addition to the introduction of new reef organisms. By modifying traditional transplantation procedures with new techniques and features, there is a potential to increase the benefits and/or decrease the costs of a project.

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