, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 193-201

Gonad morphology, oocyte development and spawning cycle of the calanoid copepod Acartia clausi

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Abstract

Information on gonad morphology and its relation to basic reproductive parameters such as clutch size and spawning frequency is lacking for Acartia clausi, a dominant calanoid copepod of the North Sea. To fill this gap, females of this species were sampled at Helgoland Roads from mid March to late May 2001. Gonad structure and oogenesis were studied using a combination of histology and whole-body-analysis. In addition, clutch size and spawning frequency were determined in incubation experiments, during which individual females were monitored at short intervals for 8 and 12 h, respectively. The histological analysis revealed that the ovary of A. clausi is w-shaped with two distinct tips pointing posteriorly. It is slightly different from that of other Acartia species and of other copepod taxa. From the ovary, two anterior diverticula extend into the head region, and two posterior diverticula extend to the genital opening in the abdomen. Developing oocytes change in shape and size, and in the appearance of the nucleus and the ooplasm. Based on these morphological characteristics, different oocyte development stages (OS) were identified. Mitotically dividing oogonia and young oocytes (OS 0) were restricted to the ovary, whereas vitellogenic oocytes (OS 1–4) were present in the diverticula. The development stage of the oocytes increased with distance to the ovary in both, anterior and posterior diverticula. Most advanced oocytes were situated ventrally, and their number varied between 1 and 18, at a median of 4. All oocyte development stages co-occur indicating that oogenesis in A. clausi is a continuous process. These morphological features reflect the reproductive traits of this species. In accordance with the low numbers of mature oocytes in the gonads, females usually produced small clutches of one to five eggs. Clutches were released throughout the entire observation period at intervals of 90 min (median) resulting in mean egg production rates of 18–28 eggs female−1 day−1.

Communicated by H.-D. Franke.