A new review has found that turbidity and sedimentation, two of the most widely recognized threats to coral reefs, can have an effect on coral reproduction before, during and after spawning.
Elevated turbidity regularly occurs in shallow, tropical marine environments driven primarily by wind-driven waves but this can be exacerbated by anthropogenic activities such as dredging.
The effects on adult corals and the sensitivity of their early life-history stages has been well documented, but the review, published in Marine Pollution Bulletin highlights new potential mechanisms that suspended sediments can have on the reproductive cycle including gametogenesis, spawning synchrony and on gametes in the water column.
The WAMSI (Western Australian Marine Science Institution) study, conducted by researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and The University of Western Australia (UWA), is working to help environmental managers predict how corals will react to changing pressures on their environment.
Co-author from UWA’s Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, Gerard Ricardo, said that the review highlighted the need to be able to quantify the extent of the changes in the environment in order to accurately predict how coral spawning would be affected.