Estimation of size at first maturity in two South African coral species
AbstractThe corals Acropora austera and Platygyra daedalea have been the subject of extensive reproductive and population genetic studies in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (iSimangaliso), on the KwaZulu-Natal coast, eastern South Africa. Despite this, estimates of size at first maturity in these two species are lacking. This information could be used to provide a baseline to differentiate juveniles from adult sizes of corals, an important factor for assessing the condition of scleractinian communities in reefs. Here, we present the methods followed to provide such estimates for these two hard corals. Using generalised linear models and assuming knife-edge maturity (50% probability), it was estimated that A. austera from iSimangaliso matures at c. 15 cm mean colony diameter (MCD) (95% CI: 9.25–20.75 cm MCD) and P. daedalea matures at c. 7 cm MCD (95% CI: 4.55–8.39 cm MCD). These estimates were comparable to those for tropical species which is remarkable considering the high-latitude nature of the sampled reefs. It is expected that the findings from this study will assist in the assessment of reproduction, recruitment, survival and genetic variation in clonal organisms such as corals, and will provide a baseline to assess the effects of climate change on coral communities in the region.
Keywords: coral demographics, high-latitude reefs, maturity stage, reproductive size, Two-mile Reef, Western Indian Ocean
African Journal of Marine Science 2014, 36(4): 513–516