Here we describe an efficient and effective technique for rearing sexually-derived coral propagules from spawning through larval settlement and symbiont uptake with minimal impact on natural coral populations. We sought to maximize larval survival while minimizing expense and daily husbandry maintenance by experimentally determining optimized conditions and protocols for gamete fertilization, larval cultivation, induction of larval settlement by crustose coralline algae, and inoculation of newly settled juveniles with their dinoflagellate symbiont Symbiodinium. Larval rearing densities at or below 0.2 larvae mL-1 were found to maximize larval survival and settlement success in culture tanks while minimizing maintenance effort. Induction of larval settlement via the addition of a ground mixture of diverse crustose coralline algae (CCA) is recommended, given the challenging nature of in situ CCA identification and our finding that non settlement-inducing CCA assemblages do not inhibit larval settlement if suitable assemblages are present. Although order of magnitude differences in infectivity were found between common Great Barrier Reef Symbiodinium clades C and D, no significant differences in Symbiodinium uptake were observed between laboratory-cultured and wild-harvested symbionts in each case. The technique presented here for Acropora millepora can be adapted for research and restoration efforts in a wide range of broadcast spawning coral species.
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- Great Barrier Reef
- Coral reef