Timing of mass spawning in corals: potential influence of the coincidence of lunar factors and associated changes in atmospheric pressure from northern and southern hemisphere case studies

Wolstenholme, Jackie, Nozawa, Yoko, Byrne, Maria, and Burke, William (2018) Timing of mass spawning in corals: potential influence of the coincidence of lunar factors and associated changes in atmospheric pressure from northern and southern hemisphere case studies. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, 62 (2). pp. 98-108.

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Abstract

Synchronized multispecies mass spawning events are striking features of reproduction in corals. This synchronous gamete release of thousands of animals over vast stretches of reef is thought to be cued by rhythms of the Moon. However, the mechanisms are not fully understood. We propose an explanation that may contribute to understanding this mechanism, that spawning is triggered by the coincidence of two factors, each in different lunar rhythms. We investigate this proposal in case studies using seven years of coral spawning data from two locations: Kochi, Japan and Lizard Island, Australia. Our calculations show that a feature in a lunar synodic rhythm (the third quarter) will synchronise with a feature in a lunar non-synodic rhythm (the zero declination) usually once, although occasionally twice in a year. Supported by data on the date of spawning from the two locations, we suggest that this coincidence of lunar factors exerts an important influence on the timing of annual mass spawning in corals. This coincidence may be associated with low atmospheric pressure. Spawning at the time of the third lunar quarter may favour fertilisation success due to the reduced currents during neap tides associated with the lower gravitational pressure of the lunar quarters.

Item ID: 52181
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: corals, marine invertebrates, reproduction, gamete release, spawning, lunar rhythms, synodic rhythm, sidereal rhythm, zero declination, atmospheric pressure
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ISSN: 2157-0272
Research Data: http://dx.doi.org/10.4225/28/59658419a8ee9, http://dx.doi.org/10.4225/28/5403CA25BC84D
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2018 03:45
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060308 Life Histories @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060808 Invertebrate Biology @ 30%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040102 Atmospheric Dynamics @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9602 Atmosphere and Weather > 960299 Atmosphere and Weather not elsewhere classified @ 20%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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