Egg size and fecundity of biannually spawning corals at Scott Reef

Taryn Foster, James Gilmour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Egg size and fecundity are often used as proxies for coral reproductive success and health. The amount of energy a coral invests in reproduction reflects its environmental conditions during gametogenesis. Additionally, assuming resources for reproduction are limited, it is thought that an increase in egg size should result in a decrease in the number of eggs produced i.e. investing in many small eggs or fewer larger eggs. The biannually spawning populations of Scott Reef offer a unique opportunity to compare the egg size and polyp fecundity of corals exposed to different environmental conditions during gametogenesis, prior to spawning in autumn (March) and spring (October). In this study, we investigated the relationship between egg size and polyp fecundity within and between seven Acropora species from 2008 to 2010. We also quantified the fecundity and egg size of four Acropora species that spawn during both autumn and spring (2008–2010). We found no seasonal variability in egg size and fecundity in the species studied here, possibly as a result of a summer light regime being impacted by high cloud cover in cyclone season. There was high natural variability and no apparent trade-off between egg size and fecundity, both within and between each species. These findings challenge the assumption that egg size and fecundity are negatively correlated, or that a simple, energetically constrained trade-off exists between the two.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12313
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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