Mass Spawning by Green Algae on Coral Reefs

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Science  21 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5303, pp. 1116-1118
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5303.1116

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Predawn episodes of mass spawning by green algae (up to nine species in five genera on a single morning) intermittently cloud Caribbean waters. Species- and sex-specific bouts of anisogamous gamete release occurred synchronously and predictably on a given morning, with closely related species spawning at different times. Algal sexual reproduction was seasonal, but, unlike the mass-spawning behavior of other sessile marine organisms, showed no lunar or tidal cycling. The discovery of mass-spawning behavior by these algae has important implications for future studies of the reproductive ecology and speciation of a vital, yet poorly understood, component of the coral reef community.

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