Biannual coral spawning decreases at higher latitudes on Western Australian reefs
Seasonal differences in the timing of multi-specific coral spawning between the east and west coasts of Australia may be the result of a genetic legacy or of adaptation to local conditions. Using estimates of the proportions of coral species that spawned in spring and autumn at Ashmore Reef (12°S) and Ningaloo Reef (23°S) in Western Australia, in combination with findings of previous surveys, I examined whether reproductive seasonality varied with latitude. A consistently high proportion of species spawned during the main reproductive season in autumn regardless of latitude. However, there was a clear decrease in the proportion of species spawning in spring, from an average of 49 % at Ashmore Reef (12°S) to 7 % at Ningaloo Reef (23°S). The results of this study suggest that seasonality of coral reproduction in Western Australia reflects environmental gradients and natural selection rather than an inherited genetic legacy.
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