Spatio-temporal patterns of coral recruitment at Vamizi Island, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
Spatial and temporal patterns of recruitment of reef corals were assessed for the first time in Mozambique by deploying settlement plates at various spatio-temporal scales between October 2012 and October 2013. The abundance of juvenile corals (5−50 mm in diameter) was assessed along transects. Settlement of acroporids was highly seasonal, with 97% of spat settling between July and October 2013. Pocilloporids settled throughout the year, peaking slightly between October 2012 and January 2013. The annual mean larval settlement of up to 1 135 spat m–2 was comparable to that on other East African reefs, but was dominated by acroporids, which constituted over 80% of all spat, whereas pocilloporids settle in higher densities in Kenya and South Africa. The peak settlement season also differed from other African locations. A greater proportion of variance in settlement rates occurred at the spatial scale of kilometres (between sites) and centimetres (between settlement plates) than at the scale of metres (between subsites), implying that most patchiness occurs at those scales. The peak in acroporid settlement coincided with the period of multispecific spawning, with settlement occurring as early as nine days after a spawning event. As no similar spawning events have been reported for other reefs in the area, our results suggest that these spawning events strongly influence overall annual settlement rates and promote high levels of self-seeding at Vamizi. There was no relationship between settlement of larvae to settlement plates and juvenile density on adjacent reefs, suggesting either variable levels of early post-settlement mortality or high interannual variability in settlement.
Keywords: coral reproduction, juveniles, larval settlement, recruitment, Scleractinia, Western Indian Ocean