| Genet-specific spawning patterns in Acropora palmata - :16048 | National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
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Genet-specific spawning patterns in Acropora palmata
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  • Description:
    The broadcast spawning elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, requires outcrossing among different genets for effective fertilization. Hence, a low density of genets in parts of its range emphasizes the need for precise synchrony among neighboring genets as sperm concentration dilutes rapidly in open-ocean conditions. We documented the genet-specific nightly occurrence of spawning of A. palmata over 8 yr in a depauperate population in the Florida Keys to better understand this potential reproductive hurdle. The observed population failed to spawn within the predicted monthly window (nights 2-6 after the full moon in August) in three of the 8 yr of observation; negligible spawning was observed in a fourth year. Moreover, genet-specific patterns are evident in that (1) certain genets have significantly greater odds of spawning overall and (2) certain genets predictably spawn on the earlier and others on the later lunar nights within the predicted window. Given the already low genet density in this population, this pattern implies a substantial degree of wasted reproductive effort and supports the hypothesis that depensatory factors are impairing recovery in this species.

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