Marine Biology

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 259–273 | Cite as

Reproduction of a Northumberland population of the polychaete Cirratulus cirratus

  • P. J. W. Olive


A population of Cirratulus cirratus (O. F. Müller) was sampled from September 1966 to September 1968. The population is found intertidally in crevices at Cullercoats Bay, Northumberland (UK). Measurements of the sexual maturity and size of the animals have been made. The breeding season is not restricted, spawning occurs in the population asynchronously throughout the year. Ripe worms and worms that have just spawned are invariably present, but the majority of females are always at intermediate stages of oogenesis. Adult males, however, always contain active spermatozoa. Females, but not males, are devoid of coelomic gametes after spawning; a new generation of coelomic oocytes begin to accumulate in the coelom after 30 days. The growth of the coelomic oocytes is relatively slow, the coelomic phase of oocyte development takes between 1 and 2 years for completion. The coelomoducts which serve for the emission of the gametes are described. An interpretation of the female population structure based upon length and sexual maturity data suggests that most females survive to spawn 2 or 3 times, and some to spawn 4 or 5 times. They grow in length by about 2 cm in the period between successive spawnings. The reproduction of Cirratulus cirratus is compared with that of other annelid species breeding throughout the year, and this unusual mode of reproduction is discussed.


Population Structure Adult Male Breeding Season Polychaete Sexual Maturity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. W. Olive
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of Newcastle-upon-TyneNewcastle-upon-TyneEngland
  2. 2.Dove Marine LaboratoryUniversity of Newcastle-upon-TyneNewcastle-upon-TyneEngland

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