Coral Reefs. 12-5. Coral Anatomy.
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Corals exhibit sexual and asexual reproduction. The coral colony expands in size by budding. Budding may be intratentacular, in which the new bud forms from the oral discs of the old polyp, as in Diploria, or extratentacular in which the new polyp forms from the base of the old polyp, as in Montastraea cavernosa.
A common type of asexual reproduction in corals is by fragmentation. Broken pieces of corals that land on a suitable substrate may begin growing and produce a new colony. This type of reproduction is common in branching corals like Acropora cervicornis in which a positive correlation was found between fragment size and survival.
Many coral species mass spawn. Within a 24 hour period, all the corals from one species and often within a genus release their eggs and sperm at the same time.
Some species of coral brood their larvae. The sperm fertilizes the egg before both are released from the coral. The larvae float to the top, settle, and become another colony. Species of Acropora release brooded larvae.