Science-based approach to using growth rate to assess coral performance and restoration outcomes


Edmunds, P. J.Putnam, H. M.


Biology Letters


One response to the coral reef crisis has been human intervention to enhance selection on the fittest corals through cultivation. This requires genotypes to be identified for intervention, with a primary basis for this choice being growth: corals that quickly grow on contemporary reefs might be future winners. To test for temporal stability of growth as a predictor of future performance, genotypes of the coral Porites spp. were grown in common gardens in Moorea, French Polynesia. Growth was measured every two to four months throughout 2018, and each period was used as a predictor of growth over the subsequent period. Area-normalized growth explained less than 29% of the variance in subsequent growth, but for biomass-normalized growth this increased to 45–60%, and was highest when summer growth was used to predict autumn growth. The capacity of initial growth to predict future performance is dependent on the units of measurement and the time of year in which it is measured. The final choice of traits to quantify performance must be informed through consideration of the species and the normalization that best capture the information inherent in the biological processes mediating variation in traits values.





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Journal Article

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