Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) researchers Marine Gouezo, Dawnette Olsudong and Victor Nestor are co-authors on a paper recently published in the scientific journal, Coral Reefs. The paper describes the results of the study on the reproductive cycle of several species of corals, to determine when corals spawn and the environmental conditions that influence corals to spawn. Understanding these patterns may give researchers insight into why Palau’s corals, and other corals in this region, are so resilient.
Most corals in Palau reproduce by broadcast spawning, meaning the corals release both eggs and sperm (both called “gametes”) into the water. The gametes then meet and fertilize in the ocean and may become young coral polyps if they successfully anchor on rocks. For fertilization to be successful, during spawning events, many corals will spawn during the same nights, usually at the same time.
This study found that in Palau, not all coral types spawn at the same time. For example, Acropora corals were found to mostly spawn in March and April, while Porites corals from April to August, depending on species. Other species such as the one belonging to the genus Montipora did not spawn at the same time at all. The PICRC researchers found that specific environmental conditions occurring throughout the year influenced the time of spawning, such as differences in tides, sea surface temperature, and levels of sunlight. The study confirmed that there is an extended coral spawning season in Palau that spreads over 9 months, during which corals spawn at different times depending on species.
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