Project 7.2 Synchrony Review: The objective of this component is to identify the degree of synchrony of coral spawning in WA and whether there is temporal and spatial variation in the timing of spawning and whether there are any differences in spawning synchrony between turbid-water (typically inshore) and clearwater (typically offshore) coral communities. Spawning patterns in WA will be contrasted with spawning pattern in the GBR as part of this review. The purposes of the review is to allow the development of a protocol/procedure for assessing coral community reproductive output over the course of a year - i.e. how to collect and examine corals in the field (and sample corals for inspection under a microscope) and assess when coral spawning will occur. The protocol will also outline how to use this information (in combination with survey techniques) to produce a Coral Spawning Environmental Window Index to assess when coral spawning is likely to occur at a location and the significance of the spawning window given the local community composition (i.e. the risk of not observing the spawning window).
A review will be conducted of reproductive process of corals in WA and will involve collating and interpreting all available information in scientific literature with a view to describing the current state of knowledge. Significant amounts of relevant information on the reproductive status of corals have been collected during several large scale dredging projects (associated with identifying when multi-specific mass spawning of corals may occur and when dredging should cease under the ministerial conditions). Some of this data is publically available (and has already been collated under the WAMSI Dredging Science Node Theme 1), but data collected during dredging programs will reside with the owners (the dredging proponents). Attempts will be made to access this data via Theme 1 of the Dredging Science Node and ultimately to synthesize this information and incorporate it into the review. Development of the protocol is a desktop exercise and will be informed by the reviews.