Marine Biology

, Volume 143, Issue 6, pp 1185–1192 | Cite as

Influence of UV radiation on the survival of larvae from broadcast-spawning reef corals

  • G. M. WellingtonEmail author
  • W. K. Fitt
Research Article


Effects of ambient ultraviolet light on the survivorship of eggs and planulae larvae was investigated for three species of broadcast-spawning reef corals, Acropora palmata, Montastraea annularis, and M. franksi. Eggs and larvae from these corals contain high concentrations of lipids (60–70% by weight) and float in surface waters for 3–4 days following spawning. Larvae originating from colonies living at deeper sites on the reef exhibited significantly lower survivorship than conspecifics originating from parents in shallow water when experimentally exposed for up to 4 days to ambient surface levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Concentrations of the UVR-protective compounds correlated positively with survival and matched concentrations found in parent colonies, implying that higher concentrations of ultraviolet B protective compounds are responsible for greater survival of eggs and larvae from shallow compared to deeper-dwelling parents. Ultraviolet B appears to be responsible for most of the observed differences in larval survivorship with ultraviolet A playing a minor or insignificant role. Data presented here indicate that coral recruits on Caribbean reefs and elsewhere may originate primarily from adult colonies dwelling in shallow water.


Coral Larva Adult Coloni High Cloud Cover Parent Coloni Acropora Palmata 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Frank McFarland and Dr. Mark Warner for assistance with field and laboratory work, Dr. Steven Miller of the National Undersea Research Center's Florida Keys Program for providing ship support and Dave Ward for his able assistance in getting us safely to the spawning sites and back in the dark. Drs. Alina Szmant and Margaret Miller and colleagues provided some of the shallow larvae. This work was partially funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (OCE-9301750 to G.M.W. and 9959401 and 0117731 to W.K.F.). We also thank Drs. Michael Lesser and Malcolm Schick for their constructive criticisms that improved the manuscript. We declare that the experiments reported herein were performed under permits granted by the National Undersea Research Program (NURC-NOAA). Contribution No. 021 of the Key Largo Marine Research Laboratory.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and BiochemistryUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Institute of EcologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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