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Reproduction and distribution of two species of Goniastrea (Scleractinia) from the Great Barrier Reef province

Abstract

The reproductive biology of Goniastrea aspera at Magnetic Island was compared with that of a very similar sympatric species, G. favulus as reported by Kojis and Quinn at Heron Island. The development of gametes was similar in both species, but there was no evidence for an adolescent protandrous period of development in G. aspera such as that recorded for G. favulus at Heron Island. Other reproductive differences between the two species were found in egg size and the mode of spawning. The eggs of G. aspera are smaller and more numerous than those of G. favulus. Goniastrea aspera expelled buoyant packets of eggs and sperm, while G. favulus had sticky sinking eggs which were released separately from the sperm. The spatial pattern of the two species was examined on the reef flat at Magnetic Island to determine whether the observed differences in spawning behaviour and egg buoyancy might have an effect on egg retention and the distribution of adult colonies. The results of this comparison failed to detect any difference in the degree of aggregation of the two species. This is not the result which would be expected if sticky sinking eggs helped retain developing larvae in the vicinity of the adult. These results, together with evidence from a wide range of coelenterates and observations on the larvae of G. aspera point to post spawning larval behaviour as the most likely factor in determining where these species will settle.

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Babcock, R.C. Reproduction and distribution of two species of Goniastrea (Scleractinia) from the Great Barrier Reef province. Coral Reefs 2, 187–195 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00263572

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Keywords

  • Spatial Pattern
  • Sedimentology
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Reproductive Biology
  • Reef Flat