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Sexual reproduction of the reef coral Montastreacavernosa (Scleractinia: Faviidae) in the Santa Marta area, Caribbean coast of Colombia


Sexual reproduction of the reef-building coral Montastreacavernosa was studied in the Santa Marta area, Caribbean coast of Colombia, from October 1990 to October 1991. The area is subjected to a seasonal upwelling–outwelling regime. From microscopical analysis of tissue sections sampled each lunar month around the full moon, it was confirmed that this is a gonochoric, broadcasting species, with a single gametogenic cycle per year, and a 1:1 sex ratio. Oogenesis began a few weeks after spawning, and extended for 11 mo. The onset of spermatogenesis occurred just before the full moon of June, later than at other localities where sea-water temperatures during the first half of the year are not as low. The amount of reproductive tissue strongly increased in both sexes after July, in association with an increase in sea-water temperature and a decrease in photoperiod. The gonad index of fully mature female colonies was about four times lower than at other localities, perhaps due to the stressful seasonal regime. The male gonad index was lower than that of the female, indicating sex-related differences in the rates of biomass allocation to reproduction. As in other Caribbean localities, spawning occurred after the full moons of August and September. However, there was some evidence of a third spawning episode after the full moon of October, possibly associated with a delay in the occurrence of maximum sea-water temperatures in near-equatorial localities compared to higher latitudes. The probability of cross-fertilization in this species with a gonochoric breeding system and a broadcasting mode of reproduction is favored by its balanced sex ratio, its usually high within-reef zone abundance, and by localized and repeated spawning episodes, synchronized by lunar phase.

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Received: 19 April 1996 / Accepted: 24 September 1996

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Acosta, A., Zea, S. Sexual reproduction of the reef coral Montastreacavernosa (Scleractinia: Faviidae) in the Santa Marta area, Caribbean coast of Colombia. Marine Biology 128, 141–148 (1997).

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  • Sexual Reproduction
  • Colombia
  • Biomass Allocation
  • Full Moon
  • Male Gonad