Volume 72

Hybrid solution? Building the case for Acroporid restoration in Costa Rica

Cambronero-Solano, S; J.A. Marin; S. Durnin
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Date: November, 2019

Pages: 346

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy-Two Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Punta Cana

Country: Dominican Republic


Coral reefs provide coastal protection, are centers of high biodiversity, and support a wide range of recreational and commercially important species of fish and invertebrates. Due to significant declines in living coral coverage worldwide, coral restoration efforts are increasing, especially in the Caribbean region. Among the most important reef building species, Acroporids play a major role in habitat complexity and because of their growth rates have been targeted for restoration projects. Three sympatric Acropora species occur in the Caribbean; in Costa Rica, A. palmata is the most common, A.cervicornis is very scarce and the hybrid A. prolifera has not been reported yet. Understanding ecological, physiological and evolutionary relationships is a key factor to conduct a successful restoration project. We report for the first time the presence of A. prolifera in Costa Rica, from a single colony located at Cahuita National Park. On site photographies and opportunity fragments were collected and compared to museum specimens of Museo de Zoología of Universidad de Costa Rica. Morphological evidence demonstrates hybrid intermediate morphology, with high similarity to the palmate morph reported on other Caribbean regions. We propose genetic, micro-structure and immunological analyses that will support the best management practices of Acropora spp. in Costa Rica, a country with high potential for ecological restoration. Lastly, we urge the need of stakeholders to increase support for coral reef research, monitoring and restoration projects in the South Western Caribbean region.

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