• Reproduction of Mediterranean zooxanthellate and azooxanthellate scleractinian corals along environmental gradients
  • Airi, Valentina <1979>


  • BIO/05 Zoologia


  • Despite extensive studies focus mainly on sexual reproductive characteristics in tropical scleractinian species, there is limited knowledge on temperate regions. The Mediterranean is a biodiversity hotspot under intense pressure from anthropogenic impacts. Climatic models further predict that the Mediterranean basin will be one of the most impacted regions by the ongoing warming trend. This makes it a potential model of more global patterns to occur in the world’s marine biota, and a natural focus of interest for research on climate. The present research contributed to increase data on reproductive modes and sexuality of temperate scleractinian corals, highlighting their developmental plasticity, showing different forms of propagation and different responses to environmental change. For the first time, sexuality and reproductive mode in Caryophyllia inornata were determined. An unusual embryogenesis without a clear seasonal pattern was observed, suggesting the possibility of an asexual origin. Sexual reproduction of Astroides calycularis was governed by annual changes in seawater temperature, as observed for other Mediterranean dendrophylliids. Defining the reproductive biology of these species is the starting point for studying their potential response to variations of environmental parameters, on a global climate change context. The results on the influence of temperature on reproductive output of the zooxanthellate (symbiosis with unicellular algae) Balanophyllia europaea and the non-zooxanthellate Leptopsammia pruvoti suggest that the latter may be quite tolerant to temperature increase, since the zooxanthellate species resulted less efficient at warm temperatures. A possible explanation could be related to their different trophic system. In B. europaea thermal tolerance is primarily governed by the symbiotic algae, making it more sensitive to temperature changes. On the contrary, the absence of symbionts in L. pruvoti might make it more resistant to temperature. In a progressively warming Mediterranean, the efficiency on scleractinian reproduction could be influenced in different ways, reflecting their extraordinary adaptability.


  • 2014-05-08


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Airi, Valentina (2014) Reproduction of Mediterranean zooxanthellate and azooxanthellate scleractinian corals along environmental gradients, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biodiversità ed evoluzione , 26 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6425.