Study Uncovers New Fact of Coral Spawning

MELBOURNE, Fla., Nov. 9 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they have determined why corals spawn for just a few nights in some locations, but elsewhere the spawning continues for several months.

It’s long been known corals synchronize their release of eggs and sperm into the water, but scientists were unsure how and why they did so.

Florida Institute of Technology Professor Robert van Woesik says he’s determined corals spawn when regional wind fields are light. When it is calm the eggs and sperm have the best chance to unite before they are dispersed.

Corals off the coast of Kenya have months of light winds so they can reproduce for much of the year, Woesik said. On the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, calm weather is short-lived and the coral reproductive season is brief.

Woesik said his findings are critically important for effective reef conservation.

“Coral reproduction is a very local event,” Woesik said. “This means local conservation efforts will maximize reproductive success and give reef systems a chance to adapt to global climate change.”

The study appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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