Settlement-competency periods of larvae of three species of scleractinian corals
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- Wilson, J. & Harrison, P. Marine Biology (1998) 131: 339. doi:10.1007/s002270050327
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The pattern of settlement over time of three broadcast spawning coral species (Cyphastrea serailia, Acanthastrea lordhowensis, and Goniastrea australensis) from the Solitary Islands (30°00′S; 153°20′E) was studied in 1995 and 1996 in order to determine the maximum length of time these larvae could remain in the water column and still retain the ability to settle and metamorphose. Larvae were maintained in aquaria and the number which had settled on biologically-conditioned tile pairs was monitored every 5 to 10 d. While the majority of larvae settled quickly after becoming competent, some larvae survived and settled for extended periods after spawning. Competency periods ranged from 26 d for C. serailia to 56 d for G. australensis and 78 d for A. lordhowensis. These data greatly extend the known competency periods for larvae of broadcast-spawning corals and indicate the potential for transport of broadcast-spawned coral larvae over large distances. Medium to long-distance larval dispersal of the species studied provides a mechanism for their widespread distribution in subtropical regions, on reefs which are often widely spaced and relatively isolated.