Staghorn and Elkhorn corals have been one of the most important corals in terms of its contribution to reef growth throughout the Caribbean and Tropical Western Atlantic. They provide shelter and structure for many species of reef inhabitants and are visually stunning representatives of coral reef systems.
Reproduction occurs sexually in annual mass spawning events, and asexually by fractional propagation through breakage and subsequent re-growth of broken fragments. Sexual reproductive success necessitates that at least two separate genotypes of coral be present in close proximity for successful fertilization to occur. Most remaining populations of Acropora corals are small and very fragmented. Often these remnant thickets are clones of the same genetic parents, so sexual reproduction within these thickets will likely not be successful. Sexual reproduction by fragmentation is the main reproductive strategy for these two coral species, but for this method to be successful, healthy adult colonies must be present, and their broken fragments must land on a suitable substrate.