Sexual dimorphism in corallite size and modularity of a broadcast spawning coral, Porites lobata

Ricardo M. Pedraza-Pohlenz, Eduardo F. Balart, J. J.Adolfo Tortolero-Langarica, Alma Paola Rodríguez-Troncoso, Michael E. Hellberg, Orión Norzagaray-López, Rafael A. Cabral-Tena, Amílcar Leví Cupul-Magaña, David A. Paz-García*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Differences in selective pressures and the energetic cost of gametes in gonochoristic corals should vary with the sex of the colony, which may lead to sexual dimorphism. Coral colonies are composed of subunits (corallites) that create a complex morphological architecture. If corallite features are distinct between sexes, then the degree of coordinated change among these subunits may also vary (phenotypic modularity). This study tested for sexual dimorphism in the corallites of the reef-building coral Porites lobata, a gonochoric broadcast spawner, and compared this with previously demonstrated sexual dimorphism in its congener P. panamensis, a gonochoric brooder. Corallite area in P. lobata was 17% larger for males than for females (p < 0.05). Phenotypic modularity analysis showed that the integration of skeletal traits differs between sexes in both P. lobata and in P. panamensis. In P. lobata, females showed a higher trait integration than males, while the opposite pattern was observed in P. panamensis. Our results demonstrate corallite traits differentiate between sexes and suggest that between-sex differences in the degree of corallite integration may vary with reproductive mode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1068391
StatePublished - Jan 10 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the project 10023 of PEP Program of CIBNOR to EFB, grant PROMEP-220265 to APR-T, P/PIFI-2010-14MSU0010Z-10 to ALC-M, NGS-55349R-19 to APR-T, PROCER/CCER/DROPC/09/2016 to ALC-M, Marine BioGenomics funding and National Geographic Society. Acknowledgments

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Pedraza-Pohlenz, Balart, Tortolero-Langarica, Rodríguez-Troncoso, Hellberg, Norzagaray-López, Cabral-Tena, Cupul-Magaña and Paz-García.


  • corallite
  • Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP)
  • morphometrics
  • phenotypic modularity
  • Porites
  • reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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