Influence of different feeding regimes on the survival, growth, and biochemical composition of Acropora coral recruits

Last modified: 
December 6, 2017 - 12:46pm
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Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 11/2017
Authors: Jessica Conlan, Craig Humphrey, Andrea Severati, David Francis
Journal title: PLOS ONE
Volume: 12
Issue: 11
Pages: e0188568

Heterotrophic feeding in newly-settled coral planulae can potentially improve survivorship and accelerate early development in some species; however, an optimal diet to facilitate this does not currently exist. This study evaluated the efficacy of three heterotrophic feeding regimes (enriched rotifers, unfiltered seawater, and a novel, particulate diet), against a wholly-phototrophic treatment on Acropora hyacinthusAloripesAmillepora, and Atenuis recruits, over 93 days post-settlement. The unfiltered seawater treatment recorded maximum survival for all species (Ahyacinthus 95.9±8.0%, Aloripes: 74.3±11.5%, Amillepora: 67±12.7%, Atenuis: 53.2±11.3%), although not significant. Growth (% surface area gain) was also greatest in the unfiltered seawater, and this was significant for Amillepora (870±307%) and Atenuis(693±91.8%) (p<0.05). Although total lipid concentration was relatively stable across treatments, the lipid class composition exhibited species-specific responses to each treatment. Lower saturated and higher polyunsaturated fatty acids appeared beneficial to recruit performance, particularly in the unfiltered seawater, which generally contained the highest levels of 20:5n-3 (EPA), 22:6n-3 (DHA), and 20:4n-6 (ARA). The present study demonstrates the capacity of a nutritionally adequate and readily accepted heterotrophic feeding regime to increase coral recruit survival, growth, and health, which can greatly reduce the time required in cost- and labour-intensive culture.

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