Night irradiance and synchronization of lunar release of planula larvae in the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis

Abstract

Pocillopora damicornis (Linnaeus), which is known to release planula larvae on a monthly cycle, was grown in full daytime solar irradiance, but with four treatments of night irradiance: (1) natural night irradiance, (2) shifted-phase (total darkness during nights of full moon with artificial irradiance at lunar intensity on nights of new moon), (3) constant full moon (full lunar irradiance every night), and (4) constant new moon (total darkness every night). The reproductive cycle of the corals held in the “shifted-phase” treatment moved out of synchrony with the cycle of corals exposed to a natural lunar cycle of night irradiance. Two previously described “types” of P. damicornis were tested. The “Type Y” normally start releasing larvae at full moon, with peak production at third quarter. In the shifted-phase treatment they began releasing planulae at new moon (artificial full moon), with peak production at first quarter. The “Type B” corals, that normally start releasing planulae at new moon with peak production at first quarter, began to release planulae at full moon (artificial new moon), with peak production at third quarter. Populations of corals grown either in the constant full moon or constant new moon treatment quickly lost synchronization of monthly larva production, although production of planulae continued. Thus spawning is synchronized by night irradiance.

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Contribution No. 702 of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology

Communicated by N. D. Holland, La Jolla

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Jokiel, P.L., Ito, R.Y. & Liu, P.M. Night irradiance and synchronization of lunar release of planula larvae in the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis . Mar. Biol. 88, 167–174 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00397164

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Keywords

  • Reef Coral
  • Reproductive Cycle
  • Solar Irradiance
  • Full Moon
  • Peak Production