Reproductive biology of the antipatharian black coral Antipathes fiordensis in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand
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The reproductive biology of Antipathes fiordensis Grange, a species endemic to south-western New Zealand, was followed from April 1994 to May 1995. Ten colonies were individually tagged in Doubtful Sound and sampled on a monthly basis in order to determine their reproductive activity. The fecundity of each of the five tagged female colonies was determined by estimating the total number of polyps per colony from photographs of each colony and by planimetry, the proportion of gravid polyps per colony, and the mean number of oocytes per gravid polyp. In addition, 56 colonies were sampled in March 1995 to estimate the sex ratio, height at sexual maturity, and mean sizes of females and males. A. fiordensis was found to be a dioecious species which, in the absence of gonads in the polyps, has no obvious external morphological differences between the sexes. Broadcast spawning of gametes is the likely mode of reproduction. Gametogenesis began in November 1994 and was highly synchronous within and between colonies, with spawning occurring in March 1995. The sex ratio in adults was 1:1. Colonies reached sexual maturity between the heights of 70 and 105 cm which, based on existing estimates of growth rate, corresponds to a minimum age for sexual maturity of about 31 yr. The largest oocytes measured ranged from 100 to 140 μm in size. Female colonies produced between 1.3 and 16.9 million oocytes, with the larger colonies dominating the reproductive output of the population.
KeywordsGrowth Rate Morphological Difference Sexual Maturity Reproductive Output Reproductive Biology
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