Elevated temperature alters the lunar timing of Planulation in the brooding coral Pocillopora damicornis.

Academic Article


  • Reproductive timing in corals is associated with environmental variables including temperature, lunar periodicity, and seasonality. Although it is clear that these variables are interrelated, it remains unknown if one variable in particular acts as the proximate signaler for gamete and or larval release. Furthermore, in an era of global warming, the degree to which increases in ocean temperatures will disrupt normal reproductive patterns in corals remains unknown. Pocillopora damicornis, a brooding coral widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific, has been the subject of multiple reproductive ecology studies that show correlations between temperature, lunar periodicity, and reproductive timing. However, to date, no study has empirically measured changes in reproductive timing associated with increased seawater temperature. In this study, the effect of increased seawater temperature on the timing of planula release was examined during the lunar cycles of March and June 2012. Twelve brooding corals were removed from Hobihu reef in Nanwan Bay, southern Taiwan and placed in 23 and 28°C controlled temperature treatment tanks. For both seasons, the timing of planulation was found to be plastic, with the high temperature treatment resulting in significantly earlier peaks of planula release compared to the low temperature treatment. This suggests that temperature alone can influence the timing of larval release in Pocillopora damicornis in Nanwan Bay. Therefore, it is expected that continued increases in ocean temperature will result in earlier timing of reproductive events in corals, which may lead to either variations in reproductive success or phenotypic acclimatization.
  • Published In

  • PLoS One  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Acclimatization, Animals, Anthozoa, Coral Reefs, Ecosystem, Global Warming, Larva, Moon, Oceans and Seas, Periodicity, Reproduction, Seasons, Seawater, Taiwan, Temperature
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Crowder CM; Liang W-L; Weis VM; Fan T-Y
  • Start Page

  • e107906
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 10