Synchronous spawning of Acropora in the Red Sea
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- Bouwmeester, J., Khalil, M.T., De La Torre, P. et al. Coral Reefs (2011) 30: 1011. doi:10.1007/s00338-011-0796-5
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Multi-specific synchronous spawning is a reproductive strategy used by scleractinian corals that has now been described from coral reefs in 23 locations globally (Baird et al. 2009). While high multi-specific synchrony in the reproductive condition of Acropora colonies has been documented in the Red Sea in April and/or May (Hanafy et al. 2010), multi-specific synchronous spawning has not been directly observed. In April 2011, mature oocytes were found in a high proportion of colonies in numerous species of Acropora on reefs near Thuwal, Saudi Arabia (22°18′19.26″N, 38°57′56.66″E). On the night of April 16 2011, two nights before the full moon, egg-sperm bundles were first observed in Acropora polyps at 20:30 h (Fig. 1a). Between 22:30 and 23:45 h, 43 colonies from 10 out of 13 surveyed Acropora species released egg/sperm bundles (Fig. 1b), including three species that had not been observed to spawn previously (A. plantaginea, A. parapharaonis, and A. lamarcki). This is the first documented multi-specific synchronous spawning event in the Red Sea, demonstrating that the asynchronous spawning pattern at Eilat in the Gulf of Aqaba (Shlesinger and Loya 1985) is not representative of the Red Sea, and providing further support for the prediction that these events are characteristic of all speciose coral assemblages (Guest et al. 2005).
The authors would like to thank AH Baird for his assistance in Acropora taxonomy.
© Springer-Verlag 2011