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The reproductive biology of Plutonaster Bifrons, Dytaster Insigns and Psilaster Andromeda (Asteroidea: Astropectinidae) from the Rockall Trough

  • P. A. Tyler (a1) and S. L. Pain (a1)

Examination of the reproductive biology of three closely related sympatric astropectinid asteroidshas revealed two distinct reproductive strategies. In Plutonaster bifrons and Dytaster insignis the gonads are serially arranged and open at gonopores located at the tip of genital papillae found on the dorsal arm surface between the bases of the paxillae. The ovaries of these species produce numerous small (ca. 120/«n diameter) eggs which in Plutonaster bifrons appear to show a distinct synchrony of production. Initiation of gametogenesis occurs in June to August of each year with oocyte growthcontinuing until March with a spawn-out in the period March to early June. In specimens where spawningdoesnot occur, there would appear to be internal oocyte degeneration, or after spawning relict oocytesundergo phagocytosis. In males initiation of spermatogenesis may occur in August/September of eachyear but after this synchrony of sperm development is not evident. In Psilaster andromeda gonads are located at the base of the arms and each gonad opens at a single gonopore. A number of small (<300 /«n) oocytes are produced by each gonad. Some of these are phagocytosed and some undergo vitellogenesis and grow to a maximum size of 950 fim before being spawned. Unspent oocytes undergo internal degeneration. In neither females nor males is there any evidence of reproductive synchrony. From these egg sizes, fecundities and gametogenic strategies, we infer indirect planktotrophic development for Plutonaster bifrons, the transfer of a seasonal surface production to deep water providing a food source for developing larvae. The egg size and or close to the sea-bed, as there is no evidence of brooding in this species.

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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
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