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Free Content Observations of the Synchronized Mass Spawning and Post Settlement Activity of Octocorals on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia: Biological Aspects

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Observations of the synchronized mass spawning of scleractinian corals on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia highlighted the need for a similar study of octocoral spawning in the same region. This paper provides details of the synchronized mass spawning of more than twenty octocoral species from the region of the Barrier Reef centered around Townsville and is based on observations over the 4 years 1984–1987. Data is provided on the egg size and coloration, and the mode and timing of spawning which usually occurs following the full moon at the end of spring. It generally coincides with the mass spawning of scleractinian corals and other invertebrates in the region. In common with scleractinian corals, two spawnings separated by one lunar cycle were observed for several species in 1987. Three different modes of reproduction in these Great Barrier Reef octocorals are reported: buoyant gamete release (broadcast spawning), internal brooding and surface brooding. Alcyoniids (especially Sinularia, Sarcophyton, Lobophytum and Cladiella) are generally broadcast spawners, while representatives of the family Xeniidae tend to exhibit internal brooding. Surface brooding was observed for the stolonifers Clavularia inflata, Pachyclavularia violacea and the gorgonian Briareum steehei. After fertilization, planulae from five alcyoniid species, Lobophytum crassum, L. compactum, L. planum, Sarcophyton glaucum and Sinularia conferta, were reared through settlement and metamorphosis. This is the first study of these soft coral species from the Great Barrier Reef, and details the juvenile colonies' growth and mortality.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1989

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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