Considerable progress has been made in spawning brooding coral species in captivity but, the precise environmental cues that trigger broadcast spawning corals to release gametes remain largely unknown and spawning events within aquaria are rare and unpredictable. Taking advantage of the latest microprocessor technologies Project Coral aims to better understand spawning cues in captivity and investigates the influences of the lunar cycle, diurnal changes, seasonal temperature changes and nutritional input on gamete production and release.
In 2013 methodologies proved correct, enabling me to document the spawning of two species of Acropora within the museums coral research system in South East London. Work during 2014 has been designed to unpick this success and a series of experiments are being run to evaluate the role of colony size, heterotrophic feeding and gene expression on gamete production.
Inducing broadcast coral spawning in captivity is an exciting development in aquarium husbandry and has great potential in providing a source of highly sustainable cultured coral for the aquarium industry but may also open a whole new area of coral reef research.