Study Shows Coral Spawning Depends on Wind; Makes Local Conservation Imperative

coral in calm water photo

Photo via Paul and Jill via Flickr CC

With the future of corals looking grim - grim enough for a proposal to start freezing them for future reintroduction - it's more important than ever to understand what corals need for healthy reproduction. The synchronization behind coral spawning has always been a bit of a mystery. Lunar and solar timing play a factor, but so does another weather pattern. A new study published in London in Proceedings of the Royal Society B explains why corals spawn at varying times depending on their geographical location. They wait for perfect times when regional wind fields are light, allowing some corals to spawn for several months at a time in some locations, or just a handful of nights in other areas. This discovery places increased emphasis on the importance of localized marine conservation efforts for corals. Science Daily reports that Robert van Woesik, a biologist at the Florida Institute of Technology, has explained what conditions corals look for when syncronizing their spawning. "...Corals spawn when regional wind fields are light. When it is calm the eggs and sperm have the chance to unite before they are dispersed. Corals off the coast of Kenya have months of light winds so they can reproduce for much of the year. On the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, calm weather is short-lived and the coral reproductive season is brief."

Because coral spawning is so reliant on specific weather conditions in that area, spawning is a highly localized event, and each area under a marine preserve will need to have highly localized regulations.

"This means local conservation efforts will maximize reproductive success and give reef systems a chance to adapt to global climate change," states van Woesik.

More conservation efforts world wide, with emphasis on the spawning patterns of corals at individual locations will be important to ensuring their survival.

More on Coral Reef Conservation
As Corals Kick the Bucket, It's Time to Freeze Them for Posterity
6 Steps to Saving the World's Coral Reefs
Can coral reefs be worth $30 billion a year?
100 Places: The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

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