Predictable and unpredictable spawning events: in situ behavioural data from free-spawning coral reef invertebrates
Babcock, R and Mundy, C and Keesing, J and Oliver, J, Predictable and unpredictable spawning events: in situ behavioural data from free-spawning coral reef invertebrates, Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, 22, (1-3) pp. 213-228. ISSN 0792-4259 (1992) [Refereed Article]
We describe the spawning behaviour and some aspects of spawning periodicity in a diverse group of marine invertebrates, principally echinoderms, but including sponges, anthozoans, molluscs, and polychaetes. Our observations were made both opportunistically and on a systematic basis between 1978 and 1992 on the central and northern Great Barrier Reef. Spawning was predictable in some of the species observed, for example Bohadschia argus, Euapta godeffroyi, and Stichopus variegatus (Holothuroidea), which exhibited regular lunar and diel periodicity. Others, such as Holothuria coluber, Actinopyga lecanora, and Bohadschia graffei (Holothuroidea), Acanthaster planei (Asteroidea), Hyotissa hyotis and Arca spp. (Bivalvia) exhibited no clear lunar or diel periodicity in spawning behaviour. Mass heterospecific spawnings which involved several species, often from different phyla, were commonly observed. The species participating were usually those with unpredictable spawning patterns and while the species involved were diverse there were also occasions when spawning involved species from the same genera. Fertilization rates were measured in situ for the predictable spawner Bohadschia argus and were found to vary between 0–96% depending on the circumstances of the spawnings. Fertilization rates for the unpredictable spawners showed similar variability; Holothuria coluber and Actinopyga lecanora ranged from 9–83%.