Sexual reproduction of the brooding sponge, Rhopaloeides odorabile

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Whalan, SW & Battershill, C & de Nys, R 2007, 'Sexual reproduction of the brooding sponge Rhopaloeides odorabile', Coral Reefs, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 655-663.

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Sexual reproduction of Rhopaloeides odorabile, a common Great Barrier Reef sponge, was quantified using histological sections from samples collected over two reproductive seasons. Rhopaloeides odorabile is viviparous and gonochoristic with a male biased sex ratio (2.5:1). Commencement and cessation of gametogenesis coincides with rising and falling sea surface temperatures (≈24–29°C). Spermatogenesis occurs from October until January. Females initiate oogenesis in September with the asynchronous development of oocytes, embryos and larvae occurring within the brood chambers. A larval release period of 5–6 weeks occurs during January and February. The minimum size of reproductive individuals was 176 cm3 for females and 192 cm3 for males. The total reproductive output for both sexes shows a positive correlation with size. A relative reproductive output index quantified the maximum reproductive investment at approximately 1 and 3% of the total choanoderm for females and males, respectively, which represents a lower range of reproduction in comparison to other viviparous sponges. Low reproductive output in R. odorabile may be offset by an extended spawning period, alleviating the risk of releasing larvae in potentially adverse conditions via one synchronised spawning event and increasing overall larval survival.

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