Reproduction of Dendronephthya hemprichi (Cnidaria: Octocorallia): year-round spawning in an azooxanthellate soft coral
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Sexual reproduction in the azooxanthellate octocoral Dendronephthya hemprichi Klunzinger, 1877 was studied in Eilat (Red Sea) for 2 years beginning March 1989. D. hemprichi is a gonochoric broadcasting species. Gonads at all developmental stages were found throughout the year. Small-sized oocytes and sperm sacs, 51 to 100 μm in diameter, are highly abundant, accompanied by numerous smaller primordial gonads. These features result from continuous gametogenesis, and lead to year-round oocyte and sperm maturation and release. Gamete release was observed in the laboratory on all monitoring dates, and most of the female colonies spawned repeatedly for several successive nights. The reproductive features of D. hemprichi constitute an exception to the generalization that free-spawning reef-corals have brief and synchronized broadcast-spawning episodes. This species demonstrates early onset of first reproduction, which further increases its reproductive output.
KeywordsDevelopmental Stage Early Onset Sexual Reproduction Reproductive Output Reproductive Feature
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