Colonies of two scleractinian reef coral species, Acropora longicyathus and Acropora aspera were transplanted into patch reefs at One Tree Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia as part of the ENCORE experiment. These corals and colonies of A. aspera which were naturally present in the patch reefs were exposed to four treatments over two years: controls with normal seawater, elevated levels of nitrogen only, phosphorus only, or nitrogen plus phosphorus. These corals were sampled and used to determine whether gametogenic cycles and fecundity were affected by nutrient enrichment. Acropora longicyathus had a single annual gametogenic cycle. Corals exposed to elevated nitrogen produced significantly smaller and fewer eggs and contained less testes material than those which were not exposed to nitrogen. Exposure to elevated phosphorus only resulted in corals producing more but smaller eggs, and more testes material. Egg numbers of colonies from other treatments decreased as the gametogenic cycles continued, but those of the phosphorus colonies showed almost no reduction in egg numbers between the early and late stages of the gametogenic cycles. These results have important management implications for coral reefs as they demonstrate that small increases in concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus can have severe effects on reproductive activity in these species of scleractinian corals.
Ward, S & Harrison, P 2000, 'Changes in gametogenesis and fecundity of acroporid corals that were exposed to elevated nitrogen and phosphorus during the ENCORE experiment', Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, vol. 246, no. 2, pp. 179-221.
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