We study holomorphic spheres in certain symplectic cobordisms and derive information about periodic Reeb orbits in the concave end of these cobordisms from the non-compactness of the relevant moduli spaces. We use this to confirm the strong Weinstein conjecture (predicting the existence of null-homologous Reeb links) for various higher-dimensional contact manifolds, including contact type hypersurfaces in subcritical Stein manifolds and in some cotangent bundles. The quantitative character of this result leads to the definition of a symplectic capacity.
(Received October 10 2011)
(Revised November 29 2011)
(Online publication February 28 2012)