Aspects of Sexual Reproduction and Larval Development in the Shallow Water Hermatypic Coral, Goniastrea Australensis (Edwards and Haime, 1857)
Abstract:Sexual reproduction and larval development in Goniastrea australensis, a shallow water hermatypic coral, were studied from September 1977 to November 1980 on Heron Island reef, Australia. G. australensis is a simultaneous hermaphrodite with ovary and testis intermingled on the same mesentery. Gonad development occurred synchronously within and between colonies. An annual spring spawning season of approximately 2 days was observed. Gametes were released between 1600–1800 h on neap low tides between the full and last quarter moon phases. Fertilization is probably external; eggs from a single polyp were released in clumps held together by mucus and sperm were freely released. Egg clumps were negatively buoyant and sticky, adhering to objects when contact was made. Sperm and eggs were usually released simultaneously from the same polyp. Laboratory experiments indicated that self-fertilization was possible with apparently normal larval development and settlement. In aquaria ciliated larvae developed in approximately 2 days and settlement commenced 17 days after spawning. Reproduction began in colonies with an arithmetic mean radius of 1.5–2.0 cm, aged 4+ years.
While G. australensis did not planulate, the mode and timing of spawning and larval development substantiated Stimson's (1978) hypothesis that the mode of reproduction in hermatypic corals may be related to habitat, but not his prediction that corals characteristic of the reef flat would begin to sexually reproduce at an early age and planulate.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1981-07-01
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