Sexual reproduction and larval settlement of the zooxanthellate coral Alveopora japonica Eguchi at high latitudes
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Sexual reproduction and larval settlement of Alveopora japonica Eguchi were studied at its northernmost distribution in Tokyo Bay (34°58′03′′N, 139°46′05′′E), where the annual sea temperature ranges from 13 to 27 °C. Alveopora japonica is a hermaphroditic brooding coral with oocytes and spermaries developing on separate mesenteries of the polyp. The oocytes first appeared in October, maturing in late August to early September of the following year, whereas the spermaries were first observed in May, and matured in approximately 4 months. The oocytes reached ca. 800 µm in diameter. Planulae containing zooxanthellae in their endoderm were released during the daytime in September and October. Well-developed planulae were able to settle and metamorphose within 7 h. The polyps started budding about 3 weeks after settlement, and took 3 years to grow to maturity. The population examined was sexually reproductive, indicating that A. japonica maintains local populations in Tokyo Bay by sexual reproduction.
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