FERTILITY AND FECUNDITY OF MONTASTREA ANNULARIS IN A DEGRADED REEF
This study determined the gametogenic cycle, fecundity and fertility of Montastraea annularis, in the Isla Grande coral reef, Archipelago of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, one of the most degraded reefs in the Colombian Caribbean. The surveyed population is currently characterized by medium size colonies (ca. 3379 cm2), with 27 % of the ramets showing partial mortality and 10 % with total mortality. Colonies present high number of small sized ramets formed by !ssion (76 %, smaller than 50 cm2). Based on the above mentioned population structure characteristics, the aim of this research was to explain the low recruitment rate reported for this reef through the reproductive response of a population dominated by small ramets. Between September 2003-2004, tissue fragments were collected and histological slides were made to detail the development of oocytes and spermaries and to estimate fecundity. Additionally during September of 2003 and 2004, in situ spawned eggs were collected to quantify fecundity. Results showed that oogenesis occurred between May and September and the spermatogenesis between July and September. Fertility was low (35 % and 40 %, in situ and histology, respectively) as well as fecundity (20 and 11 eggs/cm2/year-1, in situ and histology, respectively). Of the 33 % of ramets that showed spermaries, only 3 % of the mesenteries presented male gametes and in these, the presence of sperm cysts was also scarce (4 espermaries/gonad). Although the size of the ramets did not show a statistical relationship with fertility or fecundity, ramets between 50 and 100 cm2 were found more fecund than smaller (<50 cm2) or larger ramets (>200 cm2). The poor reproductive effort found can, in part, explain the low number of small colonies in the studied population, which in turn is expected in degraded sites and in populations with high !ssion rates. The results suggest that the viability of the population of M. annularis at Isla Grande is de!ned by the low number of fertile ramets and the low fecundity, but especially by low production of male gametes.
Degradation; Fecundity; Fertility; Gametogenesis; Montastraea annularisis
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