Published: June 23rd, 2023
Climate change is impacting coral reef ecosystems globally. Corals sourced from ex situ aquaculture systems can help support restoration and research efforts. Herein, feeding and coral culture techniques that can be used to promote the long-term maintenance of brooding scleractinian corals ex situ are outlined.
Climate change is affecting the survival, growth, and recruitment of corals globally, with large-scale shifts in abundance and community composition expected in reef ecosystems over the next several decades. Recognition of this reef degradation has prompted a range of novel research- and restoration-based active interventions. Ex situ aquaculture can play a supporting role through the establishment of robust coral culture protocols (e.g., to improve health and reproduction in long-term experiments) and through the provision of a consistent broodstock supply (e.g., for use in restoration projects). Here, simple techniques for the feeding and ex situ culture of brooding scleractinian corals are outlined using the common and well-studied coral, Pocillopora acuta, as an example. To demonstrate this approach, coral colonies were exposed to different temperatures (24 °C vs. 28 °C) and feeding treatments (fed vs. unfed) and the reproductive output and timing, as well as the feasibility of feeding Artemia nauplii to corals at both temperatures, was compared. Reproductive output showed high variation across colonies, with differing trends observed between the temperature treatments; at 24 °C, fed colonies produced more larvae than unfed colonies, but the opposite was found in colonies cultured at 28 °C. All colonies reproduced before the full moon, and differences in reproductive timing were only found between unfed colonies in the 28 °C treatment and fed colonies in the 24 °C treatment (mean lunar day of reproduction ± standard deviation: 6.5 ± 2.5 and 11.1 ± 2.6, respectively). The coral colonies fed efficiently on Artemia nauplii at both treatment temperatures. These proposed feeding and culture techniques focus on the reduction of coral stress and the promotion of reproductive longevity in a cost-effective and customizable manner, with versatile applicability in both flow-through and recirculating aquaculture systems.
Many coral reef ecosystems globally are being lost and degraded as a result of high-temperature stress driven by climate change1,2. Coral bleaching (i.e., the breakdown of the coral-algal symbiosis3) was considered relatively rare in the past4 but is now occurring more frequently5, with annual bleaching expected to occur in many regions by mid to late century6,7. This shortening of the interim period between bleaching events can limit the capacity for reef resilience
1. Hanging coral colonies in ex situ aquaculture tanks
The described protocols allowed for (1) the comparison of the reproductive output and timing of individual coral colonies among distinct feeding and temperature treatments and (2) an assessment of the feasibility of Artemia nauplii feeding at different temperatures. Herein, a brief overview of the findings is given, but caution should be exercised with regard to the broad interpretation of the reported effects of temperature and feeding on coral reproduction due to the short-term nature of this experiment (i.e.,.......
This preliminary assessment of the effect of temperature and feeding on coral reproduction revealed differences in reproductive output and timing among colonies cultured under distinct treatment conditions. Further, it was found that feeding Artemia nauplii to coral colonies appeared to be effective at relatively cool (24°C) as well as warm temperatures (28 °C). These combined findings highlight the applicability of these straightforward techniques for the feeding and culture of reproducing scleractini.......
|To cool down water temperature if needed
|Conductivity portable meter
|To measure salinity
|Used in Artemia cultivation
|To hang the coral colonies
|To create water flow
|Heater 350 W
|Heaters used in tanks
|HOBO pendant temperature logger
|To record water temperature
|Light portable meter
|Device used with light sensor to measure light intensity in PAR
|Plankton net 100 µm mesh size
|To collect larvae and artemia
|Primary pump 6000 L/H
|To draw water from tanks into chiller
|Propeller-type current meter
|Device used with propeller-type detector to measure flow rate
|To count the number of artemia
|Temperature controller 1000 W
|To set and maintain water temperature
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