Coral spawning predicted by rapid seasonal rise in ocean temperature

Keith, Sal and Maynard, Jeffrey and Edwards, Andrew and Guest, James and Bauman, Andrew and van Hooidonk, Ruben and Heron, Scott and Berumen, Michael and Bouwmeester, Jessica and Piromvaragorn, Srisakul and Rahbek, Carsten and Baird, Andrew (2016) Coral spawning predicted by rapid seasonal rise in ocean temperature. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 283 (1830). ISSN 0962-8452

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Coral spawning times have been linked to multiple environmental factors; however, to what extent these factors act as generalized cues across multiple species and large spatial scales is unknown. We used a unique dataset of coral spawning from 34 reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans to test if month of spawning and peak spawning month in assemblages of Acropora spp. can be predicted by sea surface temperature (SST), photosynthetically available radiation, wind speed, current speed, rainfall or sunset time. Contrary to the classic view that high mean SST initiates coral spawning, we found rapid increases in SST to be the best predictor in both cases (month of spawning: R2 = 0.73, peak: R2 = 0.62). Our findings suggest that a rapid increase in SST provides the dominant proximate cue for coral mass spawning over large geographical scales. We hypothesize that coral spawning is ultimately timed to ensure optimal fertilization success.

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Journal Article
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Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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27 Mar 2017 08:40
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 04:32