, Volume 99, Issue 2, pp 247-253

Mating behaviour and reproductive cycle of Archaster typicus (Echinodermata: Asteroidea)

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Abstract

This study examines the reproductive cycle, the mechanism of male-on-female pairing behavior and the spawning behavior of Archaster typicus Müller et Troschel. Field studies were conducted in the intertidal zone of the sand beaches at Penghu, Taiwan (23 32′N; 119 33′E) at ebb-tide in 1984 and 1985. The pairing behavior of A. typicus is a reproductive behavior which leads to simultaneous spawning, increasing the probability of fertilization. As the breeding season approaches, sea stars, especially males, display increased mobility. Because only males tend to mount another individual and because males can detect the sex of another individual by contact with the side of their arms, a male-on-female pair is formed when a male encounters a female. Eighty-five percent of the sea stars observed were paired during the pairing season. Spawning by a paired female is closely followed by spawning of its paired male; male spawning, however, does not induce spawning in its paired female. During spawning, the male turns slightly so that its arms overlap the arched arms of the female. The gonad volume of males is much less than that of females. This may result from the high efficiency of fertilization in this species, which does not require a large amount of gametes to be released, or from the higher energetic demands made on the males.

Communicated by J. M. Lawrence, Tampa