HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

David S. Gilliam

Second Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Third Advisor

Diego Lirman


Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata were once dominant, reef-building corals of Caribbean reefs. Over the last several decades, population declines of Caribbean Acropora have been dramatic, and both species are now listed as “Threatened” under the United States Endangered Species Act. Numerous restoration efforts now utilize coral gardening techniques to cultivate these species for transplantation, in which A. cervicornis is primarily cultivated both on fixed structures and in line nurseries. This study evaluates growth and survivorship of multiple A. cervicornis genotypes grown via two line nursery techniques, and compares the efficacy of each against the conventional method of fixed nursery puck-mounted culture. Suspended nursery culture resulted in higher post-fragmentation survivorship of corals than puck culture, especially in warmer conditions. Disease incidence was significantly reduced by suspended culture, which also prevented predation from fireworms (Hermodice carunculata) prevalent in puck corals at the same nursery. Genotypic growth rate differences persisted among techniques, and suspended coral growth was comparable to puck culture. Suspended colonies may need more frequent pruning to avoid branch abrasion and breakage, but the technique is an effective means to reduce disease, predation, and post-fragmentation mortality in A. cervicornis nursery culture.

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