Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-22-2017

Publication Title

Scientific Reports

ISSN

2045-2322

Volume

7

Issue/No.

1

First Page

2249

Abstract

Reef coral assemblages are highly dynamic and subject to repeated disturbances, which are predicted to increase in response to climate change. Consequently there is an urgent need to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying different recovery scenarios. Recent work has demonstrated that reef structural complexity can facilitate coral recovery, but the mechanism remains unclear. Similarly, experiments suggest that coral larvae can distinguish between the water from healthy and degraded reefs, however, whether or not they can use these cues to navigate to healthy reefs is an open question. Here, we use a meta-analytic approach to document that coral larval swimming speeds are orders of magnitude lower than measurements of water flow both on and off reefs. Therefore, the ability of coral larvae to navigate to reefs while in the open-ocean, or to settlement sites while on reefs is extremely limited. We then show experimentally that turbulence generated by fine scale structure is required to deliver larvae to the substratum even in conditions mimicking calm back-reef flow environments. We conclude that structural complexity at a number of scales assists coral recovery by facilitating both the delivery of coral larvae to the substratum and settlement.

Comments

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

ORCID ID

0000-0001-6597-0268

DOI

10.1038/s41598-017-02402-y

Peer Reviewed

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