• Inducing broadcast coral spawning ex situ: Closed system mesocosm design and husbandry protocol.

      Craggs, Jamie; Guest, James R.; Davis, Michelle; Simmons, Jeremy; Dashti, Ehsan; Sweet, Michael J.; University of Derby; Horniman Museum and Gardens; Newcastle University; SECORE International; et al. (Wiley, 2017-11-15)
      For many corals, the timing of broadcast spawning correlates strongly with a number of environmental signals (seasonal temperature, lunar, and diel cycles). Robust experimental studies examining the role of these putative cues in triggering spawning have been lacking until recently because it has not been possible to predictably induce spawning in fully closed artificial mesocosms. Here, we present a closed system mesocosm aquarium design that utilizes microprocessor technology to accurately replicate environmental conditions, including photoperiod, seasonal insolation, lunar cycles, and seasonal temperature from Singapore and the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. Coupled with appropriate coral husbandry, these mesocosms were successful in inducing, for the first time, broadcast coral spawning in a fully closed artificial ex situ environment. Four Acropora species (A. hyacinthus, A. tenuis, A. millepora, and A. microclados) from two geographical locations, kept for over 1 year, completed full gametogenic cycles ex situ. The percentage of colonies developing oocytes varied from ~29% for A. hyacinthus to 100% for A. millepora and A. microclados. Within the Singapore mesocosm, A. hyacinthus exhibited the closest synchronization to wild spawning, with all four gravid colonies releasing gametes in the same lunar month as wild predicted dates. Spawning within the GBR mesocosm commenced at the predicted wild spawn date but extended over a period of 3 months. Gamete release in relation to the time postsunset for A. hyacinthus, A. millepora, and A. tenuis was consistent with time windows previously described in the wild. Spawn date in relation to full moon, however, was delayed in all species, possibly as a result of external light pollution. The system described here could broaden the number of institutions on a global scale, that can access material for broadcast coral spawning research, providing opportunities for institutions distant from coral reefs to produce large numbers of coral larvae and juveniles for research purposes and reef restoration efforts.