Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Assessment of Gorgonian Transplantation Techniques Offshore Southeast Florida, USA

Event Name/Location

11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, July 7-11, 2008

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Due to continuing anthropogenic degradation of coral reefs worldwide, there is need for effective and experimentally tested reef restoration protocols. Much effort has been spent on techniques for the transplantation of gorgonians (Coelenterata: Octocorallia). This study used clippings from healthy adult Pseudopterogorgia acerosa and Plexaura flexuosa gorgonian colonies to test the effectiveness of several gorgonian attachment techniques. In April 2007, 40 donor colonies of each species (2-3 clippings from each donor colony). A ship grounding site offshore Broward County, Florida was chosen as the transplantation site. Forty clippings from each species were attached with cement, and 40 were attached with epoxy (attachment material treatments). In addition, 40 clippings from each species had 10 cm of their base tissue removed from around their proteinaceous axis, and 40 clippings did not undergo base stripping (base treatment). Donors and clippings were monitored 1, 2, 3, and 6 months post-transplantation. Within the first month all clip wounds on the donor colonies were completely healed. By 6 months species specific differences in success were evident. The highest percent attachment and survival was 100% for both P. flexuosa base treatments attached with epoxy, and the least successful treatment, with the highest percent missing and lowest survival at 60%, was the P. acerosa non-base-stripped treatment attached with cement. It appears that for P. acerosa, tissue that had not been stripped became necrotic and sloughed off, resulting in a loose attachment which prevented the clippings from growing over the attachment material. This project provides resource managers with quantitative evidence that gorgonian transplantation can be an effective part of reef restoration activities.

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