The effects of partial mortality on the fecundity of three common Caribbean corals

The recent intensification of human disturbances in the Caribbean has increased the prevalence of partial mortality on coral colonies. Partial mortality can change colony size by directly shrinking colonies or by splitting colonies into fragments. A reduction in colony size can also adversely affect fecundity and fitness as internal resources shift away from reproduction toward colony maintenance. This study aimed to determine whe- ther three Caribbean coral species, Siderastrea siderea, Montastraea faveolata, and Diploria strigosa, along the reef tract in Puerto Morelos, Mexico (20'52'N, 86'51'W), continued to dedicate resources to reproduction when colonies were fragmented to pre-maturation size. Contrary to expectations, eggs were found in colonies that were smaller than the maturation size and had been subjected to partial mortality. The continued dedication of resources toward reproduction, even in the smallest colonies, suggests that resource trade-offs away from reproduction are not as rigid as previously suggested in stressed corals. 

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