Aug 08, 2019 08:21 AM EDT
A phenomenon of coral spawning twice a year is helping the Great Barrier Reef survive the harsh effects of global warming. The discovery was made by researchers from the University of Queensland and the CSIRO researchers. They were looking at corals that were spawning multiple times in a year to find more success in spreading their offspring across different parts of the reef.
Dr. Karlo Hock, a professor from the University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences said that mass coral spawning should be considered as one of the most amazing processes that happen in the ocean.
"They are incredibly beautiful to look at," Dr. Hock said. "Typically, the corals that are part of the Great Barrier Reef only spawn once a year, over several nights just after the full moon. This happens in late spring when the waters are a bit warmer than usual."
This is practically the reason why the corals in the coral reef find it even more difficult to rebuild themselves when people's activities cause major destruction to the very nature of their habitat.
Dr. Christopher Doropoulos from the CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, the co-author of the study said that sometimes, coral split their spawning over two successive months. "This process helps them synchronize their reproduction to the time when the phases of the moon and other factors that affect the environmental conditions are more suitable for reproduction."
"While the reproductive success during the split spawning process may be lower than the usual single spawning because it can reduce the fertilization, our team found that the release of the eggs in two smaller events gives the corals a second chance to find a better home for their spawns," Dr. Doropoulos said.
The research team has put together a multi-disciplinary skills in creating a model. They had to consider coral ecology, biology, and oceanography in general while simulating the spread of the coral larvae during the split spawning events among the 3,800 reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef.
They want to see if the split spawning as an even is more reliable in supplying the larvae that will keep the reef resilient despite the damages that water pollution and other human activities may cause. The study is also aimed at learning whether the ability to exchange larvae among the reefs is enhanced by the split spawning process.
"This means that the split spawning, though comes with risks of infertility, can still increase the recovery potential of reefs in the region," said Dr. Hock. "This is indeed good news."
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