A millepora larvae on CCA

Identifying the crustose coralline algae that induce coral settlement

The presence of crustose coralline algae (CCA) on a reef serves as a cue to coral larvae that the reef is suitable for settlement. As corals species vary in their reproductive strategies and their preferred habitats on the reef, understanding which CCA species induce settlement across a wide variety of coral species will strengthen reef restoration efforts. 

In previous research, we focussed on a few CCA species to attract coral larval settlement. While we have successfully settled many species of Acropora, it has been challenging to settle non-branching or plating corals, including the genus Porites, which forms large iconic bommies on the Great Barrier Reef.  

This spawning season in SeaSim, we will collect a broad diversity of CCA species (10-20), from the central Reef. We will test their effectiveness in inducing coral settlement across a diverse range of common coral species (10-15) from the Reef. 

Our findings will contribute to developing coral aquaculture procedures to produce a wider range of coral species, beyond Acropora, that can be used to help regenerate degraded reefs.

Feature image credit: Christopher Brunner