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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 370:111-119 (2008)  -  DOI:

Timing of planulation by pocilloporid corals in the northwestern Philippines

R. D. Villanueva, H. T. Yap*, M. N. E. Montaño

The Marine Science Institute, College of Science, University of the Philippines, Diliman, 1101 Quezon City, Philippines
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: We determined the lunar, seasonal, and diel timing of larval release in several species in the scleractinian family Pocilloporidae at Bolinao in the northwestern Philippines. All of the species exhibited remarkable lunar periodicity in planula release, with distinct timing in the lunar calendar. Despite confinement of peak larval release between the first quarter and full moons in 4 species (Pocillopora damicornis, P. verrucosa, Stylophora pistillata, and Seriatopora guttatus), only the 2 Pocillopora species experienced significant overlap in release times. Disparate lunar timing, on the other hand, was exhibited by the 3 Seriatopora species (new moon for S. caliendrum, last quarter moon for S. hystrix, and full moon for S. guttatus) during warm-dry months, although during seasons with low planulation rates the timing for the former 2 species seemed to overlap. Generally, lunar reproductive patterns in each species were seasonally consistent despite strong variations in larval output. The highest rates of planulation were recorded during the warm-dry months (March to May) and the lowest during the warm-wet months (June to October), except for P. damicornis, in which the lowest rate occurred during the cool-dry months (November to February). The timing of release in P. damicornis is mainly during the dark period of the diel cycle, with a peak at ca. 02:30 h. This report highlights the variation in timing of planulation among closely related coral species and compares temporal planulation data in the Philippines, which lies within the Indo-West Pacific center of coral diversity, to available data on brooding pocilloporid corals from other biogeographic regions.

KEY WORDS: Pocillopora · Seriatopora · Stylophora · Reproduction · Planulae · Lunar periodicity · Seasonality · Bolinao · Brooder

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Cite this article as: Villanueva RD, Yap HT, Montaño MNE (2008) Timing of planulation by pocilloporid corals in the northwestern Philippines. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 370:111-119.

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