Bubbletips (Entacmaea quadricolor
) are prolific splitters in the wild, forming large clonal beds.
It is certainly an alternative means of reproduction, albeit asexual, and it is unclear what triggers it.
I seem to remember a long-ago lazy debate with Ron Shimek
that found varying degrees of agreement on three factors:
1) Sufficient energy reserves in the animal to allow for asexual reproduction. Gotta make sure the beast is healthy and well-nourished.
2) The lack of non-clone conspecifics of the opposite sex in the vicinity. Perhaps chemical cues suggesting the presence of a potential mate trigger efforts at SEXUAL repro, as in the largely-wasted and very energy-expensive broadcast of eggs/sperm into the water. The lack of such chemical cues may tilt efforts towards ASEXUAL repro, in other words "splitting".
3) A proper local environment.