Revista de Biología Tropical ISSN Impreso: 0034-7744 ISSN electrónico: 2215-2075

Settlement and post-settlement survival of Orbicella annularis and Orbicella faveolata (Scleractinia: Merulinidae) on substrates with coatings


reef restoration; sexual reproduction; scleractinian corals; reef conservation; coral larvae.
restauración de arrecifes; reproducción sexual; corales escleractinios; conservación de arrecifes; larvas de coral.

How to Cite

Arango-Carvajal, L. C., Quan-Young, L. I., Villegas-Jiménez, A., & Banaszak, A. T. (2023). Settlement and post-settlement survival of Orbicella annularis and Orbicella faveolata (Scleractinia: Merulinidae) on substrates with coatings. Revista De Biología Tropical, 71(S1), e54864.


Introduction: One of the main bottlenecks in restoration projects based on sexual reproduction is post-settlement survival, mainly due to competition for substrate with fleshy algae and predation. Therefore, substrates of different shapes and materials have been created and tested, seeking to optimize these processes with attractive surfaces for the larvae and structures where the recruits are protected from predation, and competition is reduced. 

Objective: To improve settlement and post-settlement survival of two important Caribbean reef-building corals, using different coatings on substrates. 

Methods: To determine whether substrate coatings properties are favourable to larval settlement in Orbicella annularis, and O. faveolata, collected in Puerto Morelos, Mexican Caribbean, we evaluated their settlement for three weeks on six coatings with a combination of properties. Each coating was designed to provide a combination of two out of three properties: 1) water repellence (hydrophobicity), 2) phosphorescence-based colour, and 3) mineral-enriched surface chemistry. In a separate experiment larvae settlement was tested using coatings with a single property. Finally, we determined the post-settlement survival of O. annularis and O. faveolata on the different coatings for seven weeks. 

Results: The combination of high hydrophobicity and light blue phosphorescent microparticles and high hydrophobicity and red-orange phosphorescent microparticles resulted in a higher settlement of O. annularis and O. faveolata when compared with other coatings (30.8 - 66.7 % higher). No significant differences were found in the number of larval settled when the water-repellence and the phosphorescence-based were evaluated independently. Post-settlement survival time on substrates was low, with a maximum of 34 days after settlement for O. annularis and 42 days for O. faveolata

Conclusions: In terms of the larval settlement, the combination of the coatings properties appears to play an essential role in the choice of microhabitat for both O. annularis and O. faveolata. But individually these properties did not generate an advantage in the larval settlement. Moreover, some chemical components associated with the coatings may be counterproductive to the survival of the polyps over time.


Álvarez-Filip, L., González-Barrios, J., Pérez-Cervantes, E., Molina-Hernández, A., & Estrada-Saldívar, N. (2022). Stony coral tissue loss disease decimated Caribbean coral populations and reshaped reef functionality. Communications Biology, 5(1), 440.

Arias-González, J. E., Fung, T., Seymour, R. M., Garza-Pérez, J. R., Acosta-González, G., Bozec, Y. M., & Johnson, C. R. (2017). A coral-algal phase shift in Mesoamerica not driven by changes in herbivorous fish abundance. PLoS ONE, 12(4), e0174855.

Aronson, R. B., & Precht, W. F. (2001). White-band disease and the changing face of Caribbean coral reefs. Hydrobiologia, 460(1–3), 25–38.

Atlas, E., & Pytkowicz, R. M. (1977). Solubility behavior of apatites in seawater. Limnology and Oceanography, 22(2), 290–300.

Baums, I. B., Baker, A. C., Davies, S. W., Grottoli, A. G., Kenkel, C. D., Kitchen, S. A., Kuffner, I. B., LaJeunesse, T. C., Matz, M. V., Miller, M. W., Pakinson, J. E., & Shantz, A. E. (2019). Considerations for maximizing the adaptive potential of restored coral populations in the western Atlantic. Ecological Applications, 29(8), e01978.

Brakel, W. H. (1979). Small-scale spatial variation in light available to coral reef benthos: quantum irradiance measurements from a Jamaican reef. Bulletin of Marine Science, 29(3), 406–413.

Carpenter, K. E., Abrar, M., Aeby, G., Aronson, R. B., Banks, S., Bruckner, A., Chiriboga, A., Cortés, J., Delbeek, J. C., DeVantier, L., Edgar, G. J., Edwards, A. J., Fenner, D., Guzmán, H. M., Hoeksema, B. W., Hodgson, G., Johan, O., Licuanan, W. Y., Livingstone, S. R., … Wood, E. (2008). One-third of reef-building corals face elevated extinction risk from climate change and local impacts. Science, 321, 560–563.

Chaudhury, M. K., Daniel, S., Callow, M. E., Callow, J. A., & Finlay, J. A. (2006). Settlement behavior of swimming algal spores on gradient surfaces. Biointerphases, 1(1), 18–21.

Edmunds, P. J., & Elahi, R. (2007). The demographics of a 15-year decline in cover of the Caribbean reef coral Montastraea annularis. Ecological Monographs, 77(1), 3–18.

Edmunds, P. J., Ross, C. L. M., & Didden, C. (2011). High, but localized recruitment of Montastraea annularis complex in St. John, United States Virgin Islands. Coral Reefs, 30(1), 123–130.

Edwards, A. J., & Gomez, E. D. (2007). Reef restoration concepts & guidelines: Making sensible management choices in the face of uncertainty. St Lucia, Australia: Coral Reef Targeted Research & Capacity Building for Management Program.

Erwin, P. M., Song, B., & Szmant, A. M. (2008). Settlement behavior of Acropora palmata planulae: Effects of biofilm age and crustose coralline algal cover. In B. Riegl & R. E. Dodge (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium.11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, United States.

Ezzat, L., Maguer, J. F., Grover, R., & Ferrier-Pagès, C. (2016). Limited phosphorus availability is the Achilles heel of tropical reef corals in a warming ocean. Scientific Reports, 6, 31768.

Finlay, J. A. (2002). The influence of surface wettability on the adhesion strength of settled spores of the green alga Enteromorpha and the diatom Amphora. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 42(6), 1116–1122.

Fisher, R., O’Lear, R. A., Low-Choy, S., Mengersen, K., Knowlton, N., Brainard, R. E., & Caley, M. J. (2015). Species richness on coral reefs and the pursuit of convergent global estimates. Current Biology, 25(4), 500–505.

Fletcher, R. L., & Callow, M. E. (1992). The settlement, attachment and establishment of marine algal spores. European Journal of Phycology, 27(3), 303–329.

Grasshoff, K., Kremling, K., & Ehrhardt, M. (1999). Methods of seawater analysis. Wiley-VCH.

Harrison, P. L., & Wallace, C. C. (1990). Reproduction, dispersal and recruitment of scleractinian corals. In Z. Dubinsky (Ed.), Ecosystems of the world, 25: Coral reefs (pp. 133–207). Elsevier Science Publishing Company, Inc.

Hernández-Delgado, E. A., González-Ramos, C. M., & Alejandro-Camis, P. J. (2014). Large-scale coral recruitment patterns on Mona Island, Puerto Rico: Evidence of a transitional community trajectory after massive coral bleaching and mortality. Revista de Biología Tropical, 62(S3), 49–64.

Jackson, J. B. C., Donovan, M. K., Cramer, K. L., & Lam, V. (2014). Status and trends of Caribbean coral reefs: 1970-2012. Gland, Switzerland: Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.

Knowlton, N., Brainard, R. E., Fisher, R., Moews, M., Plaisance, L., & Caley, M. J. (2010). Coral reef biodiversity. In A. D. McIntyre (Ed.), Life in the World’s Oceans: Diversity, distribution, and abundance (pp. 65–77). Blackwell Publishing, Ltd.

Lejars, M., Margaillan, A., & Bressy, C. (2012). Fouling Release Coatings: A Nontoxic Alternative to Biocidal Antifouling Coatings. Chemical Reviews, 112(8), 4347–4390.

Levenstein, M. A., Marhaver, K. L., Quinlan, Z. A., Tholen, H. M., Tichy, L., Yus, J., Lightcap, I., Kelly, L. W., Juarez, G., Vermeij, M. J. A., & Johnson, A. J. W. (2022). Composite Substrates Reveal Inorganic Material Cues for Coral Larval Settlement. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 10(12), 3960-–3971.

Mason, B. M., & Cohen, J. H. (2012). Long-wavelength photosensitivity in coral planula larvae. Biology Bulletin, 222(2), 88–92.

Mason, B., Beard, M., & Miller, M. W. (2011). Coral larvae settle at a higher frequency on red surfaces. Coral Reefs, 30(3), 667–676.

Patterson, J. T., Flint, M., Than, J., & Watson, C. A. (2016). Evaluation of substrate properties for settlement of Caribbean Staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis larvae in a land-based system. North American Journal of Aquaculture, 78(4), 337–345.

Petersen, D., Laterveer, M., & Schuhmacher, H. (2005). Innovative substrate tiles to spatially control larval settlement in coral culture. Marine Biology, 146(5), 937–942.

Pizarro, V., Polania, J., & Thomason, J. C. (2007). Recruitment and juvenile survivorship of brain corals at San Andres Island, Western Caribbean Sea. Cahiers de Biologie Marine, 48(2), 113–119.

Quinn, N. J., & Kojis, B. L. (2005). Patterns of sexual recruitment of acroporid coral populations on the West Fore Reef at Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Revista de Biología Tropical, 53(S1), 83–89.

R Core Team. (2019). R: A language and environment for statistical computing [Computer software]. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. URL, http,//

Richmond, R. H. (1997). Reproduction and recruitment in corals: critical links in the persistence of reefs. In C. Birkeland (Ed.), Life and Death of Coral Reefs (pp. 175–197). Chapman & Hall.

Riegl, B., Bruckner, A., Coles, S. L., Renaud, P., & Dodge, R. E. (2009). Coral reefs: threats and conservation in an era of global change. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1162(1), 136–186.

Rioja-Nieto, R., & Álvarez-Filip, L. (2019). Coral reef systems of the Mexican Caribbean: Status, recent trends and conservation. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 140, 616–625.

Ritson-Williams, R., Arnold, S. N., Fogarty, N. D., Steneck, R. S., Vermeij, M. J. A., & Paul, V. J. (2009). New perspectives on ecological mechanisms affecting coral recruitment on reefs. Smithsonian Contributions to the Marine Sciences, 38, 437–457.

Sneed, J. M., Sharp, K. H., Ritchie, K. B., & Paul, V. J. (2014). The chemical cue tetrabromopyrrole from a biofilm bacterium induces settlement of multiple Caribbean corals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 281(1786), 20133086.

Strader, M. E., Davies, S. W., & Matz, M. V. (2015). Differential responses of coral larvae to the colour of ambient light guide them to suitable settlement microhabitat. Royal Society Open Science, 2(10), 150358.

Stumm, W., & Morgan J. J. (1996). Aquatic Chemistry: Chemical equilibrium and rates in natural waters. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Szmant, A. M., & Meadows, M. G. (2006). Developmental changes in coral larval buoyancy and vertical swimming behavior: Implications for dispersal and connectivity. In B. Danis, M. Tsuchiya, T. Higuchi, S. Nakagawa & K. Kim (Eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium. 10th International Coral Reef Symposium, Okinawa, Japan.

Valeur, B., & Berberan-Santos, M. N. (2011). A brief history of fluorescence and phosphorescence before the emergence of quantum theory. Journal of Chemical Education, 88(6), 731–738.

Venn, A. A., Tambutté, E., Holcomb, M., Laurent, J., Allemand, D., & Tambutté, S. (2013). Impact of seawater acidification on pH at the tissue–skeleton interface and calcification in coral reefs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(5), 1634–1639.

Wickham, H. (2009). ggplot2: Elegant graphics for data analysis. Springer.

Williams, D. E., Miller, M. W., & Kramer, K. L. (2008). Recruitment failure in Florida Keys Acropora palmata, a threatened Caribbean coral. Coral Reefs, 27(3), 697–705.

Woodhead, A. J., Hicks, C. C., Norström, A. V., Williams, G. J., & Graham, N. A. J. (2019). Coral reef ecosystem services in the Anthropocene. Functional Ecology, 33(6), 1023–1034.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Download data is not yet available.