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Depth-related shift in life history strategies of a brooding and broadcasting deep-sea asteroid
Mercier, A. (2008). Depth-related shift in life history strategies of a brooding and broadcasting deep-sea asteroid. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 156: 205-223.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
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  • Mercier, A.

    Combining field and laboratory work, this study investigated the reproductive cycle, aggregative behavior, spawning periodicity, development and early growth of the sea star Henricia lisa living at bathyal depths off eastern Canada. Marked differences were found between individuals from ~1,300 and ~600 m deep. The former had a male biased sex ratio and an aperiodic reproductive cycle, whereas the latter displayed an equal sex ratio and a biannual breeding pattern. Furthermore, the maximum size was larger and female fecundity roughly five times higher in shallower compared to deeper populations. In the tanks, aggregative behavior was recorded twice a year during the summer and winter breeding periods. The onset of aggregations and spawning coincided with a temperature of 3–4°C. Males spawned first and females typically responded inside 30–60 min. Between 12 and 20 eggs were retained to be brooded under the arched arms of the female, whereas the remainder were broadcasted and developed without parental care. The fertilized eggs underwent a first cleavage after 12 h, reached the brachiolaria stage in 1 month, became juveniles within 3–4 months and reached ~ 4 mm in diameter after 14–17 months of growth. The embryos and juveniles developed at the same rate whether brooded or not, and development of winter cohorts was typically slower due to lower prevailing temperatures. This study of H. lisa provides the first evidence of lecithotrophy in a seasonally breeding deep-sea echinoderm and of brooding in a deep-sea asteroid.

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