Marine Biology

, Volume 91, Issue 3, pp 291–309 | Cite as

Sexual reproduction in Acropora (Isopora) species (Coelenterata: Scleractinia)

I. A. cuneata and A. palifera on Heron Island reef, Great Barrier Reef
  • B. L. Kojis


Despite the wide range of morphological diversity among the Acropora (Isopora) colonies on Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia), only two reproductively isolated species were present from 1977 to 1982: A. cuneata (Dana, 1846) and A. palifera (Lamarck, 1816). Both species released planulae lacking zooxanthellae and were simultaneous hermaphrodites with testes and ovaries occurring on separate mesenteries within the same polyp. Oogenesis preceded spermatogenesis. Seasonal cycles of gametogenesis, embryogenesis and planulation occurred in the two species. Colonies of A. cuneata developed two cycles of gametes. One cycle matured near the first quarter moon in April and the other on the same lunar phase in June. Planulae release occurred from about September to December each year and was not correlated with lunar phase. Gametes of A. palifera ripened only once per annum, a few days after the last quarter moon in November, and planulation occurred from about January to March. Embryos were brooded in the coelenteron of the polyps in both species. Ova were fertilized in the mesenteries and embryos were retained within an envelope of mesoglea and gastrodermis, remaining attached to the mesentery by a stalk until the larvae matured and were released. A. palifera and A. cuneata were abundant in the unpredictable reef flat environment. However, their life-history traits, e.g. seasonal reproduction, delayed sexual maturity, large colony size and fairly long life span, were more specialised than had been predicted for this type of environment.


Life Span Morphological Diversity Sexual Reproduction Seasonal Cycle Sexual Maturity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. L. Kojis
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoology DepartmentUniversity of QueenslandSaint LuciaAustralia

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