The type and frequency of reproduction of three common sponge species was monitored histologically and by direct field observations of spawning events over 2 successive years at the reefs of Curaçao. Ircinia strobilina showed year round reproductive activity by the production of spermatic cysts in varying intensities in a major part of the population. Production of oocytes and larvae were only observed in the period from September through April, indicating an actual breeding season of 8 months a year. The sexes in this viviparous sponge seem to be separate, but protandry cannot be ruled out. Less than 10% of the sponge tissue was found to consist of reproductive elements. Neofibularia nolitangere is a gonochoristic oviparous sponge with a short annual breeding season of 2 months, in which two successive, highly predictable, short spawning periods occurred synchronously for the whole population. Up to half of the sponge tissue was transformed to reproductive elements. Agelas clathrodes showed low reproductive activity. Field observation suggests that this sponge is an oviparous hermaphrodite, probably annually releasing male and female gametes synchronously in a varying number of individuals of its population during a short breeding period. The variation in reproductive patterns in this small group of large massive coral reef sponges spans a range similar to that found in the morphologically highly variable group of stony corals and illustrates their ecological differentiation on the reef.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
- 4 - invertebres