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The reproductive cycle of the sea urchin Psammechinus miliaris (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) in a Scottish sea loch
Kelly, M.S. (2000). The reproductive cycle of the sea urchin Psammechinus miliaris (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) in a Scottish sea loch. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 80: 909-919
In: Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press/Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom: Cambridge. ISSN 0025-3154, more
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  • Kelly, M.S.

    The sea urchin Psammechinus miliaris was sampled at monthly intervals from two replicate sites at contrasting locations (littoral and subtidal habitats) on the west coast of Scotland. Samples were collected from November 1995 to October 1997. A study of gonad development showed a clearly defined annual cycle of gametogenesis with a single spawning period. Gonad indices (GI's) varied between locations, between sites at the same location and between study years. Gonad indices were maximal prior to the onset of the spawning period in June and July. Ripe gametes were shed by dissected urchins from June to September in 1996 and June to August in 1997 coinciding with the time of year when the gonad colour was best in terms of what is desired in the market place. Over winter the GI's were very low and gonads became very dark in colour. Higher summer GI's in the urchins from one littoral site suggested that the urchins there had a seasonal influx of a more nutritious or more abundant food resource. Histological determination of the reproductive state showed that for these food-limited populations high GI's do equate with the spawning period. The gametogenic cycle fits the six stage pattern described for other echinoid species. In females oocytes of various developmental stages were present throughout the annual cycle. Recruitment to the littoral location was monitored over two seasons by quantifying the number of urchins with a test diameter <5 mm appearing in the population. Recruitment appeared variable between sites and between seasons suggesting that the collection of juveniles resulting from natural settlement may not be a reliable alternative to hatchery produced spat. Although P. miliaris has commercial potential when in cultivation, this study provided no evidence of an opportunity for a commercial fishery.

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