Although the study of coral reproduction has advanced tremendously over the last few decades, a particular gap exists in our knowledge of the reproductive modes of corals from ‘mesophotic coral ecosystems’ (MCEs) found at 30–150 m depth. Here, we report for the first time on the reproductive patterns, living cover, and survivorship under different light treatments of two scleractinian species from the MCEs of Eilat, Red-Sea: Alveopora allingi and A. ocellata. Both species are found exclusively within MCEs and are high in both abundance and relative cover. These species display a synchronous gametogenic cycles with consecutive oocyte growth and development. Peak of reproductive activity occurs in late summer (September-October), typified by accelerated oocyte growth, coinciding with the rise in seawater temperature. Estimates of fecundity show mean monthly maxima of 48.5 ± 26.3 and 23.5 ± 11.8 (Mean ± SE) oocytes per cm2 for A. allingi and A. ocellata respectively, prior to spawning. A comparison of light and temperature regimes in the shallow vs. MCE environments is presented, and the response of these species to changes in these parameters is discussed. A call encouraging the much-needed studies on the sexuality and reproductive modes of MCE coral species is expressed.
Scleractinia (Hard Corals)
Israel - Red Sea