Larval survivorship, competency periods and settlement of two brooding corals, Heliopora coerulea and Pocillopora damicornis
Larval dispersal and recruitment are important in determining adult coral distribution; however, few studies have been made of coral larval dispersal. This study examined the larval behavior, survivorship competency periods and settlement of two brooding corals, Heliopora coerulea and Pocillopora damicornis, in relation to different potential larval dispersal patterns. We also examined the lipid content of H. coerulea as a means of flotation and a source of energy. Planulae of H. coerulea were on average 3.7 mm in length, lacked zooxanthellae, and were mostly benthic, probably because of restricted movement and low lipid content (54% by dry weight). Planulae of P. damicornis were on average 1.0 mm in length, had zooxanthellae and swam actively. The competency period of H. coerulea was shorter (30 days) than that of P. damicornis (100 days). Forty percent of H. coerulea planulae crawled onto the substrata within 1 h of release, and 47% settled within 6 h. By contrast, fewer than 10% of P. damicornis planulae crawled onto the substrata within the first hour and 25% settled within 6 h of release. The planulae of H. coerulea may have a narrower dispersal range than those of P. damicornis, settling and recruiting near parent colonies. Thus, brooding corals exhibit variations in larval dispersal patterns, which are characterized by their position in the water column and competency periods.
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