Marine Science Faculty Publications

Annual Cycles of Gonadal Development of Six Common Gorgonians from Biscayne National Park, Florida, Usa

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biscayne national park, gonadal development, gorgonians, octocoral, reproduction, soft coral


Gonadal development was examined in six common gorgonian species using histological sections prepared from branch segments collected monthly between 1978 and 1981 from patch reefs in Biscayne National Park (25°21′N; 80°10′W), Florida. Species studied accounted for more than 50% of the octocorals encountered in transect surveys of sampled reefs between 1977 and 1981. Small, precursor eggs were present year round in all species. Five species exhibited seasonal reproduction; all six species appeared to be dioecious. Male and female colonies were equally represented in the sampled branches of Plexaura flexuosa, P. homomalla, and Muricea atlantica, which spawned during summer or early autumn each year. In Gorgonia ventalina, Muriceopsis flavida and Pseudopterogorgia americana, female colonies outnumbered male colonies by as much as 2:1. Muriceopsis flavida and P. americana spawned each autumn or early winter, while Gorgonia ventalina exhibited year-round reproductive potential. The unique archival data set utilized in this study provides invaluable historical data against which future studies can be compared.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Caribbean Journal of Science, v. 40, issue 1, p. 144-150