Marine Biology

, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp 413–424 | Cite as

Not all ctenophores are hermaphrodites. Studies on the systematics, distribution, sexuality and development of two species of Ocyropsis

  • G. R. Harbison
  • R. L. Miller


The lobate ctenophores Ocyropsis maculata and O. crystallina are not simultaneous hermaphrodites, based on morphological, histological and experimental evidence. Sex ratios in populations, sex ratios of size classes within populations, and average sizes of males and females support the hypothesis that both species are dioecious, rather than sequential hermaphrodites. We have divided each species into two subspecies, based on morphology and geographic distribution. Preliminary evidence suggests that the subspecies also differ in reproductive behavior. One subspecies, O. crystallina guttata, spawns on a daily cycle in the laboratory, and spawning becomes more synchronous when males and females are placed together. Species of Ocyropsis, all of which are oceanic in distribution, are probably descended from a common ancestor that was a simultaneous hermaphrodite. That this group of oceanic ctenophores evolved dioecy directly contradicts the assertion that there is a selective advantage to hermaphroditism in environments where the probability of finding a mate is reduced.


Experimental Evidence Geographic Distribution Size Classis Common Ancestor Preliminary Evidence 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. R. Harbison
    • 1
  • R. L. Miller
    • 2
  1. 1.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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