Seasonal reproduction in equatorial reef corals

Guest, J.R., Baird, A.H., Goh, B.P.L., and Chou, L.M. (2005) Seasonal reproduction in equatorial reef corals. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, 48. - .

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Abstract

Populations of broadcasting reef corals often exhibit marked reproductive seasonality and spawning synchrony. Within speciose coral assemblages there is often considerable overlap of spawning periods among species, resulting in multi-species spawning events (or ‘mass coral spawning’). Earlier geographical comparisons of reproductive synchrony suggested a reduction in the extent of mass spawning with proximity to the equator. In contrast, recent studies have revealed that reproductive seasonality and spawning synchrony within and among species are features of coral assemblages on equatorial reefs. Here we review the proposed causes of synchronous spawning among reef corals and discuss how recent findings about reproduction of corals from Singapore’s equatorial reefs shed light on these various theories. Sexual reproduction in broadcasting corals requires external fertilization, so reproductive seasonality (leading to spawning synchrony) within populations is probably highly adaptive; because synchrony increases the chances of gametes meeting, the possibility of outbreeding and may swamp opportunistic predators. No coastal location is truly aseasonal, even equatorial reefs experience marked (albeit less pronounced) rhythmic changes in sea surface temperature. Therefore, if species respond similarly but independently to timing cues to synchronise reproduction within populations; then mass spawning is just as likely to occur in equatorial coral assemblages as it is at higher latitudes.

Item ID: 9969
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 0792-4259
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2010 01:59
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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