Gametogenic and reproductive cycles of the sea anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor

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Scott, A & Harrison, PL 2009, 'Gametogenic and reproductive cycles of the sea anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor', Marine Biology, vol. 156, no. 8, pp. 1659-1671.

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Host sea anemones are ecologically important as they provide habitat for obligate symbiotic anemonefish in many areas of the Indo-Pacific. Despite their importance, no information is available on their gametogenic cycles. This study aimed to address this lack of knowledge by determining the gametogenic cycles of Entacmaea quadricolor. Gonad samples were taken from January 2003 to February 2005 at North Solitary Island, Solitary Islands Marine Park, Australia using a specially developed non-lethal field biopsy sampling technique. Sampling was done 17 times during the study period, with 15–20 individuals being sampled on each occasion. Samples were examined prior to fixation, and then histologically sectioned to determine the reproductive activity of each individual. Female anemones were significantly more abundant than males, and had asynchronous oocyte development both within and among individuals. Male anemones showed a single annual cycle of spermary growth, development and spawning. Data from the 26-month study indicated that spawning occurred in the austral summer and autumn between January and April, which coincided with the observed spawning periods that have previously been documented for this species in outdoor flow-through seawater tanks at the study location. The biopsy sampling technique used during this study provides an opportunity to gain a more thorough understanding of the gametogenic cycles and sexual pattern of host sea anemones throughout their distribution.