Broadcast spawning of two species of sea anemone, Entacmaea

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Publication details

Scott, A & Harrison, PL 2007, 'Broadcast spawning of two species of sea anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor and Heteractis crispa, that host anemonefish', Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 163-171.

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As the sea anemones, Entacmaea quadricolor and Heteractis crispa, provide essential habitat for obligate symbiotic anemonefish, knowledge of their reproductive biology is crucial to their effective management and conservation. This paper provides the first detailed information on the spawning times, behaviour and mode of gamete release for these host anemone species. Anemones were collected from subtropical reefs in the Solitary Islands Marine Park, eastern Australia, and monitored in outdoor flow-through seawater tanks from 2003 to 2005. Sexually reproductive anemones were either male or female, releasing their gametes into the water column for external fertilisation and development. Spawning of both sexes was predominately synchronous and was restricted to a few nights each year during the austral summer and autumn. Males generally began to release gametes prior to females, suggesting that sperm or some associated product may trigger the females to spawn. Sperm were commonly released in milky white streams or clouds, whereas eggs were released singly or in large masses. Reproductive seasonality and synchrony of gamete release suggests that spawning in both species is coordinated by similar responses of individuals to a range of environmental factors such as seawater temperature, photoperiod and lunar cycles. Incorporating knowledge of the sexual reproductive biology of host sea anemones into management and conservation programs could help ensure the viability of their populations and their resident anemonefish.

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