Reproductive natural history and successful juvenile propagation of the threatened Caribbean Pillar Coral Dendrogyra cylindrus


The Caribbean pillar coral Dendrogyra cylindrus was recently listed as a threatened species under the United States Endangered Species Act. One of the major threats to this species is its low, virtually undetectable recruitment rate. To our knowledge, sexually-produced recruits have never been found in over 30 years of surveys of Caribbean reefs. Until recently, the reproductive behavior of D. cylindrus was uncharacterized, limiting efforts to study its early life history, identify population bottlenecks, and conduct outplanting projects with sexually-produced offspring. In Curaçao, we observed the spawning behavior of this species over three years and five lunar cycles. We collected gametes from spawning individuals on three occasions and attempted to rear larvae and primary polyp settlers. 


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