Marine Biology

, 165:32 | Cite as

Sex-related differences in the sclerochronology of the reef-building coral Montastraea cavernosa: the effect of the growth strategy

  • Mónica Cecilia Mozqueda-Torres
  • Israel Cruz-Ortega
  • Luis Eduardo Calderon-Aguilera
  • Héctor Reyes-Bonilla
  • Juan P. Carricart-Ganivet


To investigate sex-related differences in the skeleton of the reef-building coral Montastraea cavernosa, a gonochoric broadcaster species with an annual cycle of gametogenesis, we collected six colonies during the reproductive season. Sex was determined by histological techniques and sclerochronological characteristics of digital X-ray images. Our results show, as previously reported for other gonochoric corals, differences in the sclerochronological characteristics between female and male colonies. Tissue thickness, density and calcification rate are significantly lower in females than in males, whereas there is no difference in extension rate between sexes. These are the first complete sclerochronological results reported for M. cavernosa, and for gonochoric species with solid skeletons. We conclude that sex differences in this coral arise by coupling energetic costs of reproduction and the growth strategy, and argue that it is important to consider how sclerochronological characteristics vary between sexes of gonochoric species when interpreting climate and environmental proxies from coral skeletons.



M. C. M. T. was supported by a M.Sc. fellowship from the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (462583), and a mixed scholarship for National mobility (290748). I. C. O. was supported by a PhD fellowship from the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (351902). This work was founded by grants from the Programa de Apoyo a Proyectos de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica, UNAM (PAPIIT—IN209014) to J. P. C.-G. and the Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE—62143) to L. E. C.-A. We want to thank Jenny Rodríguez for helping with the histological technique, Gabriela Gutiérrez and Sacnité Chávez for their assistance with corals collection, and Paul Blanchon for his valuable comments and for editing the English of the manuscript. The permit to collect the samples was provided by the Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (SAGARPA, Permiso de Pesca de Fomento No. PPF/DGOPA-042/13). This paper is dedicated to the memory of Pedro M. Alcolado, scientist, teacher and friend.

Compliance with ethical standards


This work was founded by grants from the Programa de Apoyo a Proyectos de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica, UNAM (PAPIIT—IN209014) to Juan P. Carricart-Ganivet and the Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE—62143) to Luis Eduardo Calderon-Aguilera.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de EnsenadaEnsenadaMexico
  2. 2.Unidad Académica de Sistemas Arrecifales, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y LimnologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoPuerto MorelosMexico
  3. 3.Posgrado en Ciencias del Mar y LimnologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCiudad De MéxicoMexico
  4. 4.Universidad Autónoma de Baja California SurLa PazMexico

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