Advertisement

Marine Biology

, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp 379–394 | Cite as

Synchronous spawnings of 105 scleractinian coral species on the Great Barrier Reef

  • R. C. Babcock
  • G. D. Bull
  • P. L. Harrison
  • A. J. Heyward
  • J. K. Oliver
  • C. C. Wallace
  • B. L. Willis
Article

Abstract

Following observations of mass spawning of hermatypic corals on the Great Barrier Reef in 1981 and 1982, spawning dates were successfully predicted and documented at five reefs on the Central and Northern Great Barrier Reef in 1983. During the predicted times, 105 species from 36 genera and 11 families were observed to spawn. Of these, 15 species were shown to have an annual gametogenic cycle. All but two of the species observed during mass spawnings shed gametes which underwent external fertilization and development. Synchronous spawning was observed both within and between the five reefs studied, which were separated by as much as 5° of latitude (500 km) or almost a quarter of the length of the Great Barrier Reef. The mass spawning of corals took place on only a few nights of the year, between the full and lastquarter moon in late spring. Maturation of gametes coincided with rapidly rising spring sea temperatures. Lunar and diel cycles may provide cues for the synchronization of gamete release in these species. The hour and night on which the greatest number of species and individuals spawned coincided with low-amplitude tides. Multispecific synchronous spawning, or “mass spawning”, of scleractinian and some alcyonacean corals represents a phenomenon which is, so far, unique in both marine and terrestrial communities.

Keywords

Late Spring Great Barrier Reef Coral Species Scleractinian Coral Diel Cycle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature cited

  1. Abe, N.: Postlarval development of the coral Fungia actiniformis var. palawensis Doderlein. Palao trop. Biol. Stn. Stud. 1, 73–79 (1937)Google Scholar
  2. Atoda, K.: The larvae and post larval development of the reef building coral. Sci. Rep. Tôhuku Univ. (Ser. 4) 20, 105–121 (1953)Google Scholar
  3. Babcock, R. C.: Reproduction and distribution of two species of Goniastrea (Scleractinia) from the Great Barrier Reef Province. Coral Reefs 2, 187–195 (1984)Google Scholar
  4. Bothwell, A. M.: Fragmentation, a means of asexual reproduction and dispersal in the coral genus Acropora (Scleractinia: Astrocoeniida: Acroporidae) — a preliminary report. Proc. 4th int. Symp. coral Reefs 2, 137–144 (1982). (Ed. by E. D. Gomez et al. Quezon City, Phillipines: Marine Sciences Center, University of the Phillipines)Google Scholar
  5. Butler, J. N.: Pink stripe on the ocean. Nat. Hist., N.Y. 89, 62–63 (1980)Google Scholar
  6. Campbell, R. D.: Cnidaria. In: Reproduction in marine invertebrates, Vol. 1. pp 133–139. Ed. by A. C. Giese and J. S. Pearse. New York: Academic Press 1974Google Scholar
  7. Caspers, H.: Spawning periodicity and habitat of the palolo worm Eunice viridis (Polychaeta: Eunicidae) in the Samoan Islands. Mar. Biol. 79, 229–236 (1984)Google Scholar
  8. Done, T. J.: Patterns in the distribution of coral communities across the central Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 1, 95–107 (1982)Google Scholar
  9. Fox, H. M.: Lunar periodicity in reproduction. Proc. R. Soc. (Ser. B) 95, 523–550 (1924)Google Scholar
  10. Grigg, R. W.: Reproductive ecology of two species of gorgonian corals: relations to vertical and geographical distribution. In: Reproductive ecology of marine invertebrates, No. 9. pp 41–59. Ed. by S. E. Stanyck. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press 1979Google Scholar
  11. Harriott, V.: Reproductive ecology of four scleractinian species at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 2, 9–18 (1983)Google Scholar
  12. Harrison, P. L., R. C. Babcock, G. D. Bull, J. K. Oliver, C. C. Wallace and B. L. Willis: Mass spawning in tropical reef corals. Science, N.Y. 223, 1186–1189 (1984)Google Scholar
  13. Heyward, A. J. and R. C. Babcock: Embryonic and post embryonic development of some hermatypic scleractinians. Proc. 5th int. coral Reef Congr. 2, p. 176 (1985). (Ed. by C. Gabrie et al. Moorea, French Polynesia: Antenne Museum-EPHE)Google Scholar
  14. Heyward, A. J. and R. C. Collins: Growth and sexual reproduction in the scleractinian coral Montipora digitata Dana. Aust. J. mar. Freshwat. Res. 36, 441–446 (1985)Google Scholar
  15. Hoffman, R. J.: Environmental uncertainty and evolution of physiological adaptation in Colias butterflies. Am. Nat. 112, 999–1015 (1978)Google Scholar
  16. Honnegger, T., J. Achermann, R. Stidwill, L. L. Littlefield, R. Baenninger and P. Tardent: Light controlled spawning in Phialidium hemisphaericum (Leptomedusae). In: Developmental and cellular biology of coelenterates, pp 83–88. Ed. by P. Tardent and R. Tardent. New York: Elsevier/North Holland 1980Google Scholar
  17. Johannes, R. E.: Reproductive strategies of coastal marine fishes in the tropics. Envir. Biol. Fish. 3, 65–84 (1978)Google Scholar
  18. Jokiel, P. L., R. Y. Ito and P. M. Liu: Night irradiance and synchronization of lunar release of planula larvae in the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis. Mar. Biol. 88, 167–174 (1985)Google Scholar
  19. Kojis, B. L. and N. J. Quinn: Aspects of sexual reproduction and larval development in the shallow water hermatypic coral Goniastrea australiensis (=favulus) (Edwards and Haime, 1857). Bull. mar. Sci. 31, 558–573 (1981)Google Scholar
  20. Kojis, B. L. and N. J. Quinn: Reproductive strategies in four species of Porites (Scleractinia) Proc. 4th int. Symp. coral Reefs 2, 145–152 (1982a). (Ed. by E. D. Gomez et al. Quezon City, Phillipines: Marine Sciences Center, University of the Phillipines)Google Scholar
  21. Kojis, B. L. and N. J. Quinn: Reproductive ecology of two faviid corals (Coelenterata, Scleractinia). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 8, 251–255 (1982b)Google Scholar
  22. Korringa, P.: Relationship between the moon and periodicity in the breeding of marine animals. Ecol. Monogr. 17, 347–381 (1947)Google Scholar
  23. Korringa, P.: Lunar periodicity. Mem. geol. Soc. Am. 67, 917–933 (1957)Google Scholar
  24. Kubota, H.: Synchronization of spawning in the crinoid, Comanthus japonica. In: Advances in invertebrate reproduction. pp 69–74. Ed. by W. H. Clark Jr. and T. S. Adams. New York: Elsevier/North Holland 1981Google Scholar
  25. Lewis, J. B.: Settlement behaviour of the planulae larvae of the hermatypic coral Favia fragum (Esper). J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 15, 167–173 (1974)Google Scholar
  26. Marshall, S. N. and T. A. Stephenson: The breeding of reef animals. Part. 1. The corals. Scient. Rep. Gt Barrier Reef Exped 3, 219–245 (1933)Google Scholar
  27. Maxwell, W. G. H.: Atlas of the Great Barrier Reef, 258 pp. New York; Elsevier 1968Google Scholar
  28. McDowall, R. M.: Lunar rhythms in aquatic animals. A general review. Tuatara 17, 133–144 (1969)Google Scholar
  29. Miller, R. L.: Sperm chemotaxis in the hydromedusae. 1. Species-specificity and sperm behavior. Mar. Biol. 53, 99–114 (1979)Google Scholar
  30. Naylor, E. and R. J. A. Atkinson: Pressure and the rhythmic behaviour of inshore marine animals. Symp. Soc. exp. Biol. 26, 395–415 (1972)Google Scholar
  31. Neumann, D.: Entrainment of a semilunar rhythm by simulated tidal cycles of mechanical disturbance. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 35, 73–85 (1978)Google Scholar
  32. Neumann, P.: Synchronization of reproduction in marine insects by tides. In: Advances in invertebrate reproduction, pp 21–35. Ed. by W. H. Clark, Jr. and T. S. Adams. New York: Elsevier/North Holland 1981Google Scholar
  33. Olhorst, S. L.: Jamaican coral reefs: important biological and physical parameters, 163 pp. Ph.D. thesis, Yale University 1980Google Scholar
  34. Orton, J. H.: Sea temperature, breeding and distribution in marine animals. J. mar. biol. Ass. U.K. 12, 339–366 (1920)Google Scholar
  35. Reiswig, H. M.: Porifera: sudden sperm release by tropical Demospongiae. Science, N.Y. 170, 538–539 (1970)Google Scholar
  36. Richmond, R. H. and P. L. Jokiel: Lunar periodicity in larva release in the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis at Enewetak and Hawaii. Bull. mar. Sci. 34, 280–287 (1984)Google Scholar
  37. Rinkevich, B. and Y. Loya: The reproduction of the Red Sea coral Stylophora pistillata. II. Synchronization in breeding and seasonality of planulae shedding. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 1, 145–152 (1979)Google Scholar
  38. Robertson, J. W. A.: Intra and interspecific interactions of two species of Montipora, 80 pp. Hon. thesis, James Cook University of North Queensland 1981Google Scholar
  39. Shlesinger, Y. and Y. Loya: Coral community reproductive patterns: Red Sea versus the Great Barrier Reef. Science, N.Y. 228, 1333–1335 (1985)Google Scholar
  40. Szmant-Froelich, A., L. Riggs and M. Reutter: Sexual reproduction in Caribbean reef corals. Am. Zool. 23, p. 961 (1984)Google Scholar
  41. Tevis, J. Jr. and I. M. Newell: Studies on the biology and seasonal cycle of the giant red velvet mite, Dinothrombium pandorae (Acari: Thrombiidae). Ecology 43, 497–505 (1962)Google Scholar
  42. Veron, J. E. N. and M. Pichon: Scleractinia of eastern Australia. Part IV: family Acroporidae. Monogr. Ser. Aust. Inst. mar. Sci. 5, 1–159 (1982)Google Scholar
  43. Wallace, C. C.: Reproduction, recruitment and fragmentation in nine sympatric species of the coral genus Acropora. Mar. Biol. 88, 217–233 (1985)Google Scholar
  44. Yoshida, M., N. Honji and S. Ikegami: Darkness induced maturation and spawning in Spirocodon saltatrix. In: Developmental and cellular biology of coelenterates, pp 75–82. Ed. by P. Tardent and R. Tardent. New York: Elsevier/North Holland 1980Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. C. Babcock
    • 1
  • G. D. Bull
    • 1
  • P. L. Harrison
    • 1
  • A. J. Heyward
    • 1
  • J. K. Oliver
    • 1
  • C. C. Wallace
    • 1
  • B. L. Willis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Marine BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations