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Reproduction and sex reversal of the solitary vermetid gastropod Serpulorbis arenarius
Calvo, M.; Templado, J. (2005). Reproduction and sex reversal of the solitary vermetid gastropod Serpulorbis arenarius. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 146(5): 963-973.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Calvo, M.
  • Templado, J.

    The reproductive biology of the Mediterranean vermetid gastropod Serpulorbis arenarius, a subtidal sessile solitary species that lives in shady rocky communities, was studied at two localities south-east of the Iberian Peninsula. Its population density is usually low, with specimens sometimes sparsely distributed. Its shell often appears to be covered by epibiotic organisms. The sex ratio is biased toward males (63%) in the populations of SE Spain, and the results point towards hermaphroditism with alternating sexuality. The results obtained suggest that all specimens are first males, change to females under some as yet unknown condition and, after the ovogenesis cycle has been completed, revert to the original sexual state (male). The possible adaptive forces that favour hermaphroditism in this species are discussed, and we hypothesise that the seizure of a spermatophore by males may stimulate sex change to female. Brooding females (51% of females studied) were found from March to December. In males, histological study of testes revealed that spermatogenesis seems to occur throughout the year. Females brooded between 5 and 28 (x¯=15) egg capsules, which were attached by stalks to the inner surface of the shell. It is noteworthy that the gonads of two of the specimens brooding egg capsules were developing testes. The newly laid egg capsules were filled with an organic intracapsular matrix, in which 40–153 (x¯=94) eggs were embedded. The mean diameter of the uncleaved ova was 352.5 µm. The organic intracapsular matrix and some nurse eggs were used as an extra-embryonic food source. Hatching occurred at an advanced veliger stage, immediately followed by metamorphosis. Therefore, the larval development of S. arenarius is of a lecithotrophic intracapsular type, with a short, free-swimming/crawling phase.

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