FISSION IN THE ZOANTHARIA PALYTHOA CARIBAEORUM (Duchassaing and Michelotii, 1860) POPULATIONS: A LATITUDINAL COMPARISON
There are few regional studies attempting to compare the asexual reproductive output of marine populations, particularly when they are exposed to different environmental conditions. In this study we compared Caribbean and Southwestern Atlantic Palythoa caribaeorum populations in terms of ramet production, the minimum colony size for fission, and the relationship between fission frequency and colony size. Fission process was quantified in Ponta Recife and Praia Portinho, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in Punta de Betín, Colombia, during the summer (December-January) of 1997 and 1998, respectively. Fission started at small colony size in both populations studied (> 4 cm2). The number of ramets produced per colony increased with colony size in Brazil and Colombia. Colombian zoanthids produced more ramets by fission than Brazilian populations. The populations shared early reproduction characteristics, and production of large numbers of ramets, which increased with colony size, even though they differed in fission frequency. Fission seems to be a conservative trait in P. caribaeorum, although its expression could vary depending on habitat conditions related to biotic and / or abiotic factors.
Asexual reproduction; Colony size; Fission; Latitudinal comparison; Palythoa caribaeorum
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