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Depth-independent reproductive characteristics for the Caribbean reef-building coral Montastraea faveolata
Villinski, J.T. (2003). Depth-independent reproductive characteristics for the Caribbean reef-building coral Montastraea faveolata. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 142(5): 1043-1053.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
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  • Villinski, J.T.

    Photosynthetic, growth, and reproductive characters for colonies of the massive coral Montastraea faveolata were measured at 3-m-depth and 18-m-depth populations in the Florida Keys in 1993 to investigate reproductive behavior across depth. I tested the hypothesis that reproductive traits would exhibit depth-related decreases similar to those documented for photosynthetically derived energy availability and growth rate. Colonies at the 18 m site had significantly reduced access to photosynthetically derived energy compared to colonies at 3 m depth. Linear skeletal extension rates were also reduced at the deep site (mean±SE; 3 m: 6.13 mm year-1±0.35; 18 m: 3.44 mm year-1±0.36; P<0.001). Contrary to expectations, depth did not affect most reproductive characters. Reproductive allocation, the amount of lipid invested in reproduction, was similar between depths (3 m: 3.74 mg lipid cm-2±0.55; 18 m: 3.88 mg lipid cm-2±0.62; P<0.8). Reproductive effort, the proportion of total lipid invested in reproduction, was also similar between sites (3 m: 41.4%±4.7; 18 m: 47.3%±7.12; P<0.163). Colonies within a depth did differ significantly in many gametic characteristics including eggs per gonad, total egg area, spermary area, total gonad area, and male allocation (the proportion of total gonad area invested in spermary tissue), but only total egg area differed between depths, and this was greater at 18 m (3 m: 55.63 µm2×104±4.76; 18 m: 60.51 µm2×104±3.41; P<0.035). Colonies at the two sites had similar polyp fecundity (egg production per polyp); however, a difference in polyp density between sites (3 m: 5.56 polyps cm-2±0.21; 18 m: 4.87 polyps cm-2±0.15; P<0.028) resulted in a significant reduction in area fecundity (egg production per square centimeter) at the 18 m site (3 m: 554 eggs cm-2±27.9; 18 m: 422 eggs cm-2±31.0; P<0.045). Thus, there was a depth-related fecundity cost arising from a change in colony architecture (i.e. polyp spacing) rather than a direct effect of depth on the number of eggs produced per polyp. Egg production per gonad was positively correlated between 1993 and 1994 (r=0.540, P<0.05), indicating that other reproductive characteristics may also be stable between years.

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