Research Article

Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 649-662

Influence of habitat on the reproductive biology of the deep-sea hydrothermal vent limpet Lepetodrilus fucensis (Vetigastropoda: Mollusca) from the Northeast Pacific

  • Noreen E. KellyAffiliated withDepartment of Oceanography, Dalhousie University Email author 
  • , Anna MetaxasAffiliated withDepartment of Oceanography, Dalhousie University

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Abstract

Habitat selection by the hydrothermal vent limpet, Lepetodrilus fucensis, in Northeast Pacific hydrothermal vent ecosystems, may influence its reproductive output, as it occupies habitats with varying physico-chemical conditions that reflect the availability of nutritional resources. Histological techniques were used to determine size at first reproduction, gametogenesis, reproductive output, and fecundity in relation to shell length (SL), through examination of the gonads of male and female L. fucensis, collected from five different hydrothermal vent habitat types with different temperature anomalies and hydrothermal fluid flow vigour: vigorous (VIG), diffuse (DIF), tubeworm bushes (TWB), peripheral (PER), and senescent areas (SEN). Both male and female L. fucensis exhibited early maturity, with the first reproductive event occurring at 3.8 and 3.9 mm shell length, respectively. All stages of gamete development were present in the gonads of males and females, suggesting continuous gametogenesis and asynchronous reproduction in this species. Gametogenic maturity of limpets did not vary among actively venting habitats (VIG, DIF, TWB, and PER), but was significantly lower in males and females from SEN habitats. Mean oocyte diameter was largest in females from VIG habitats, and smallest in females from SEN habitats, than in those from the other habitats (DIF, TWB, and PER). Females from actively venting habitats also had greater actual fecundity than those from senescent habitats. While the gametogenic pattern of L. fucensis appears phylogenetically constrained, selection of actively venting habitats by L. fucensis maximizes its reproductive output. The multiple feeding strategies of L. fucensis may allow for a constant supply of energy to be allocated to reproduction in any habitat except senescent vents. Early maturity, high fecundity, and continuous production of gametes suggest a reproductive strategy characteristic of an opportunistic species, and may be contributing to the extremely abundant populations of L. fucensis observed in the Northeast Pacific vent ecosystem.