July 24, 2014, 5:41 pm

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  • Studying coral reproduction
Rhian Waller and Anne Simpson (University of Maine) catalogue deep-water coral samples taken with the ROV Hercules (IFE).

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Why study Reproduction?

By studying reproduction we can examine how a species has moved between different ocean basins. By looking at how larvae are produced, what time of year they are produced, and how long larvae can survive before settling we can start to understand to how far they can travel, and so which coral populations are connected along larval highways.

Reproduction is also highly stress dependent - very often a coral will stop reproducing when stressed - so we can use the reproductive status of coral populations to see how healthy they are. For example, we have found that no Lophelia corals from an area that had been trawled were reproducing sexually but in an untrawled area close by the corals were reproductive. This strongly suggests that stress to the corals in the trawled area was preventing them reproduce sexually.

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