A majority of elkhorn coral reproduction involves asexual reproduction. Branches of the coral can break off and attach to substrate. The coral animals within the branch can then colonize the new area and begin a new colony.
Elkhorn coral also reproduce sexually. Each colony contains both male and female structures, and is simultaneously hermaphroditic. Millions of male and female gametes are released into the water at the same time (usually synchronized with other adjacent colonies). This sexual reproduction occurs once a year, usually in August or September on a full moon. The coral larva, or planula, will float in the water column as plankton for several days until they land on suitable substrate. The planula then metamorphose into colonial polyps. Thus, a new colony is started.
Breeding interval: Elkhorn coral spawn once a year.
Breeding season: August to September
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; simultaneous hermaphrodite; sexual ; asexual ; fertilization (External ); broadcast (group) spawning; oviparous
Elkhorn coral exhibit no parental care.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement
- Adey, W. 1975. The algal ridges and coral reefs of St. Croix. Atoll Resource Bulletin, 187: 1-67.
- Bak, R. 1983. Neoplasia, regeneration and growth in the reef building coral Acropora plamata. Marine Biology, 77: 221-227.
- National Marine Fisheries Service, 2008. "Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata)" (On-line). Office of Protected Resources, Species Information. Accessed December 20, 2008 at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/invertebrates/elkhorncoral.htm.