This study focuses on the growth alignment of the coral species Acropora cervicornis. A. cervicornis is a branching coral that has had a large population decrease in the past three decades and has been placed on the endangered species list (Aronson and Precht, 2001). A reef called Coral Gardens off of the coast of Ambergris Caye, Belize contained large amounts of A. cervicornis. Coral Gardens contains colonies of healthy and unhealthy A. cervicornis. Some of the healthiest portions of the coral contained distinct coral alignment, while the unhealthy portions did not. Tests were run to determine what causes the alignment of the coral. The tests determined that the healthy coral branches grew mostly toward the east while the unhealthy coral branches grew in random directions. The alignment of the coral toward the east was interesting because the current in the area flowed from east to west. This means that the coral branches were growing into the current. This study concluded that the A. cervicornis grew into the current in order to have access to the most nutrients and to be the most resistant to breakage from strong currents. This study allows the current direction of a reef to be determined by the alignment of A. cervicornis.


Judge, Shelley




Geology | Hydrology | Marine Biology


The College of Wooster, Acropora cervicornis, Alignment, Growth Patterns, Current Flows

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Thomas R. Herold