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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 426:149-159 (2011)  -  DOI:

Repeated bleaching events may result in high tolerance and notable gametogenesis in stony corals: Oculina patagonica as a model

Rachel Armoza-Zvuloni1,2,3,*, Roee Segal1, Esti Kramarsky-Winter1, Yossi Loya1

1Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
2The H. Steinitz Marine Biology Laboratory, Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences of Eilat, PO Box 469, Eilat 88103, Israel
3National Centre for Mariculture, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Ltd., PO Box 1212, Eilat 88112, Israel

ABSTRACT: Coral bleaching events (BEs) are occurring in coral reefs worldwide and are expected to become annual, triggered by seasonal changes in water temperature. The stony coral Oculina patagonica experiences repeated seasonal BEs along the Israeli Mediterranean coast. It thus constitutes a good model for assessing the potential effects of expected repeated BEs on coral physiology. Previous studies have shown that the overlap between bleaching and reproduction seasons in O. patagonica impedes gametogenesis. In the present study, we assessed the effect of bleaching on gametogenesis of populations commonly undergoing repeated seasonal BEs, and compared it with the effect of first and second summer BEs on gametogenesis of a population that has not experienced a summer BE in recent years. Interestingly, we found no differences between bleached and non-bleached colonies in most of the reproductive parameters tested in populations undergoing repeated seasonal BEs. We did find, however, that a population that experienced a summer BE for the first time presented significantly lower reproductive parameters in bleached colonies when compared to non-bleached colonies. Furthermore, in the following year, such bleached colonies showed an improvement in reproductive performance when compared to the previous year. The remarkable differences in gametogenesis between colonies experiencing first summer BE and those experiencing repeated seasonal BEs may be the result of improved utilization of alternative energy sources. This study provides the first evidence for notable gametogenesis in corals undergoing repeated bleaching, and suggests that adjustment processes may increase tolerance levels and may play a role in the ability of corals to overcome the expected repeated BEs.

KEY WORDS: Repeated seasonal bleaching · Adjustment · Tolerance · Reproduction · Gametogenesis · Oculina patagonica

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Cite this article as: Armoza-Zvuloni R, Segal R, Kramarsky-Winter E, Loya Y (2011) Repeated bleaching events may result in high tolerance and notable gametogenesis in stony corals: Oculina patagonica as a model. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 426:149-159.

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