In this study we compared reproductive characteristics and steroid hormone levels in the non-indigenous scleractinian coral, Oculina patagonica, inhabiting contaminated vs. uncontaminated reference sites along the Israeli Mediterranean coast. Our results indicate significantly higher steroid levels in both seawater and coral tissue samples from contaminated sites as compared to reference sites, suggesting that corals tend to accumulate steroids from the surrounding waters. Despite their higher steroid levels, corals from the contaminated sites showed reproductive potential comparable to those of the reference sites. Interestingly, a clear distinction could be seen between corals exposed to pollution for long vs. short durations, with the latter showing a failure to complete gametogenesis. This suggests that reproduction in O. patagonica is susceptible to acute rather than chronic stress. The involvement of adjustment/adaptation processes may explain this species tolerance, and may reflect the ability of O. patagonica to successfully invade new areas in the Mediterranean Sea.
- Oculina patagonica
- Steroid hormones