, Volume 132, Issue 4, pp 691-701

Reproductive patterns of scleractinian corals in the northern Red Sea

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Abstract

The majority of published accounts on scleractinian coral reproduction are from the tropical Pacific and Caribbean, with very little information known about Red Sea species. This report examines variation in reproductive mode in 24 species of hermatypic corals (belonging to seven families) in the Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea. Eighteen species are hermaphroditic broadcasters, two are hermaphroditic brooders and three are gonochoric broadcasters. In the Pocilloporidae, the gonads project into the body cavity, while in the other six families the gonads reside inside the mesenteries. The number of gonads per polyp in broadcasting species follows family or genus lines. Fecundity (eggs per polyp) increases with polyp size. Brooding species usually exhibit one or two gonads per polyp and each gonad contains only one to three oocytes. Oocyte size varies widely and does not relate to mode of reproduction. The largest oocytes (diameter = 450 μm) occur in the brooding coral Alveopora daedalea and in broadcasting species of the genus Acropora (diameter = 420 μm). Gonad morphology and gonochorism versus hermaphroditism appear to be constrained phylogenetically at the family or genus level. Lastly, this report compares the data presented for Red Sea scleractinian species with the data available on scleractinian corals from other geographical regions.

Received: 2 February 1993 / Accepted: 9 March 1998