7.3 Friday, Jan. 4 Reproductive Timing and Connectivity in the Octocoral Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae LASKER, HR*; PARIS, CB; KOUGH, A; CHERUBIN, LM; University at Buffalo; University of Miami; University of Miami; University of Miami firstname.lastname@example.org
Reproductive synchrony is essential for species that cast gametes into the water column. While synchrony is necessary the basis for the day and time of day in which spawning occurs is less clear. Proximal mechanisms based on the intensity and spectral quality of light and endogenous clocks have been identified in some systems and the predictability of those cues may be the basis of selection for that timing. However, discussions of the timing of reproduction most commonly focus on factors such as production of gametes, successful fertilization, and dispersal and survival of the resultant larvae. The Caribbean octocoral Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae is a surface brooder which in The Bahamas spawns on a weak lunar cycle centered around the new moon in November and December. The larvae are negatively buoyant. A coupled bio-physical model, the Connectivity Modeling System, was used to simulate patterns of dispersal and larval retention during spawning months in The Bahamas from 2005-2008. The model was used to compare the hypothetical patterns of recruitment and dispersal that would occur with spawning across the entire lunar month. The timing of release across the lunar month affected neither overall settlement nor dispersal. Gonochoric species must exhibit some degree of synchrony in their spawning, but the basis for the timing of those events is not apparent. Bio-physical models provide a valuable tool in exploring the consequences of that timing on successful recruitment.