Geographical variation in reproductive biology is obscured by the species problem: a new record of brooding in Porites cylindrica, or misidentification?

Janine Erica Abecia, James R. Guest, Ronald D. Villanueva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Little is known about the reproductive biology of corals from the Philippines, despite this archipelago being at the center of coral reef biodiversity. Here, we report on the reproductive biology of a branching poritid species provisionally identified as Porites cf. cylindrica in the Bolinao-Anda reef complex (BARC), northwestern Philippines. Histological examination and ex situ planulation observations reveal cylindrica colonies to be gonochoric brooders that release actively swimming zooxanthellate larvae. Planulation appeared to occur throughout the year and there was significant lunar periodicity in planular release. The mean peak of release occurred from the 25th to 29th lunar day or just before the new moon, while peak in diel timing in planulation occurred during daytime between 08:00–11:00 h. Elsewhere in the Pacific, Porites cylindrica colonies are reported to broadcast spawn. If our species identification is correct, then this is the first report of brooding in P. cylindrica. Although there are no apparent morphological differences between the coral in this study and P. cylindrica reported from other sites, an alternative explanation for our findings is that our provisionally identified Porites cf. cylindrica is a different species. If so, our findings further highlight how difficulties with species identification in corals can influence our understanding of geographical variation in reproductive biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalInvertebrate Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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