New insights into patterns of coral spawning on Western Australian reefs
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On reefs around Australia, coral mass spawning typically occurs during the austral spring (October/November) on the east coast, and during autumn (March/April) on the west coast. However, to investigate the incidence of a secondary spawning event in spring on the west coast, the reproductive state of corals was assessed on two reefs. The results indicated that of the 29 species of Acropora investigated, multiple colonies of 11 species spawned in late spring or in early summer, in contrast to previous reports of spawning during autumn. Additionally, of four species that were followed through time at one reef, two spawned in both spring and autumn, however, individual colonies had only one gametogenic cycle. Within a single site, conspecific colonies were reproductively isolated and may not interbreed, potentially representing the initial stage of sympatric speciation in these populations.
KeywordsCoral reproduction Biannual spawning Reproductive isolation Barrow Island Dampier Archipelago
This study was supported by Chevron Australian and The Australian Institute of Marine Science. C. Wallace from the Museum of Tropical North Queensland kindly identified study species. A. Heyward and A. Baird provided useful comments on an early draft.
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