Marine Biology

, Volume 124, Issue 4, pp 551-560

First online:

Identification of archaeogastropod larvae from a hydrothermal vent community

  • L. S. MullineauxAffiliated withBiology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • , S. L. KimAffiliated withBiology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • , A. PooleyAffiliated withInstitute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University
  • , R. A. LutzAffiliated withInstitute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University

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Dispersal is essential in order that endemic species living in ephemeral, patchy vent environments may persist over evolutionary time. Quantitative field studies of larval dispersal, however, require specieslevel identification of the larval forms because each individual must be distinguished from related vent species, and from non-vent species living in the surrounding deep-sea environment. Methods for culturing these larvae to an identifiable stage have not yet been developed. To solve the larval identification problem for the archaeogastropod molluscs (a prominent component of vent communities), we used a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to image shells of larvae collected in the water column near vents along the East Pacific Rise (9°40′ to 9°50′N; 104°W). Larval shell size, shape and ornamentation were compared to protoconchs retained in juvenile or adult shells of identified species, and used to assign five larval groups unequivocally to species (Cyathermia naticoides Warén and Bouchet, 1989; Neomphalus fretterae McLean, 1981; Clypeosectus delectus McLean, 1989; Rhynchopelta concentrica McLean, 1989; and Lirapex granularis Warén and Bouchet, 1989) and seven groups tentatively to species or genus [Lepetodrilus spp. (three groups); Gorgoleptis sp; Peltospira ?operculata McLean, 1989; and ?Melanodrymia sp. (two groups)].