Corals Like It Waxed: Paraffin-Based Antifouling Technology Enhances Coral Spat Survival

Tebben, Jan; Guest, James R.; Sin, Tsai M.; Steinberg, Peter D.; Harder, Tilmann
January 2014
PLoS ONE;Jan2014, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
The early post-settlement stage is the most sensitive during the life history of reef building corals. However, few studies have examined the factors that influence coral mortality during this period. Here, the impact of fouling on the survival of newly settled coral spat of Acropora millepora was investigated by manipulating the extent of fouling cover on settlement tiles using non-toxic, wax antifouling coatings. Survival of spat on coated tiles was double that on control tiles. Moreover, there was a significant negative correlation between percentage cover of fouling and spat survival across all tiles types, suggesting that fouling in direct proximity to settled corals has detrimental effects on early post-settlement survival. While previous studies have shown that increased fouling negatively affects coral larval settlement and health of juvenile and adult corals, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to show a direct relationship between fouling and early post-settlement survival for a broadcast spawning scleractinian coral. The negative effects of fouling on this sensitive life history stage may become more pronounced in the future as coastal eutrophication increases. Our results further suggest that targeted seeding of coral spat on artificial surfaces in combination with fouling control could prove useful to improve the efficiency of sexual reproduction-based coral propagation for reef rehabilitation.


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