Feeding increases the number of offspring but decreases parental investment of Red Sea coral Stylophora pistillata

Jessica Bellworthy, Jorge E. Spangenberg, Maoz Fine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Successful reproductive output and recruitment is crucial to coral persistence and recovery following anthropogenic stress. Feeding is known to alter coral physiology and increase resilience to bleaching. The goal of the study was to address the knowledge gap of the influence of feeding on reproductive output and offspring phenotype. Colonies of Stylophora pistillata from the Northern Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) were fed an Artemia diet or unfed for 5 months during gametogenesis, fertilization, and brooding. In addition, time to settlement and mortality of planulae were assessed at water temperatures ranging from winter temperature (22°C) to three degrees above average peak summer temperature (31°C). A range of physiological parameters was measured in parents and offspring. In brooding parents, feeding significantly increased protein concentration and more than tripled the number of released planulae. Planulae from unfed colonies had higher chlorophyll per symbiont concentration and concomitantly higher photosynthetic efficiency compared to planulae from fed parents. In settlement assays, planulae showed a similar thermal resistance as known for this Red Sea adult population. Mortality was greater in planulae from unfed parents at ambient and 3°C above ambient temperature despite higher per offspring investment in terms of total fatty acid content. Fatty acid profiles and relative abundances were generally conserved between different fed and unfed colonies but planulae were enriched in monounsaturated fatty acids relative to adults, that is, 16:1, 18:1, 20:1, 22:1, and 24:1 isomers. Ultimately the availability of zooplankton could influence population physiology and recruitment in corals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12245-12258
Number of pages14
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • climate change
  • coral
  • diet
  • lipids
  • parental investment
  • Red Sea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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