Background

Corals are known to compete for space on the reef using chemical compounds released into the water and sometimes even via direct contact through polyp extension or sweeper tentacles. These “coral wars” are crucial to life on the reef, as certain species affect the growth of other neighboring species, with and without directly contacting them. The growth of coral species in captivity, ex. aquaculture, depends on theses often unseen factors as well. Little has been done to examine the impact that this factor has on growth of captive grown corals. Max and Josef are working on a collaborative project that will quantify the effect different species of stony coral have on the growth of adjacent stony coral specimens.

The Experiment

Coral fragments, of two different stony coral species of the genus Acropora, are placed on opposite ends of a square coral growth plate. Plates with two specimens of the same coral species are used as a control group. The growth rate of the coral specimens is assessed based on the rate of growth of the colony in terms of height and rate of encrusting of the colony onto the plug. Rates of growth are also compared between the area facing the other coral species (theoretically competing with the other species) and the side opposite the other coral species.