Marine Biology

, Volume 150, Issue 4, pp 551–563 | Cite as

Reproduction patterns of four Antarctic octocorals in the Weddell Sea: an inter-specific, shape, and latitudinal comparison

  • C. OrejasEmail author
  • J. M. Gili
  • P. J. López-González
  • C. Hasemann
  • W. E. Arntz
Research Article


The reproductive patterns of four Antarctic gorgonian species have been investigated. Two of them, Dasystenella acanthina and Thouarella sp., present the bottle-brush-shape type; the other two, Fannyella rossii and Fannyella spinosa, are fan-shaped. Two different reproductive patterns have been observed in D. acanthina and Thouarella sp., which point to two size classes in the frequency distribution of oocytes. This feature indicates a reproduction cycle with overlapping generations, being each of them of more than one year, probably with seasonal spawning. F. rossii and F. spinosa show only one size class of oocytes, which could point towards an annual reproductive cycle. The presence of larvae in the gastrovascular cavities in both Fanyella species and Thoaurella sp. is a sign of a possible larvae release during austral summer. The number of oocytes per polyp ranges from 1.1 ± 0.10 SE to 1.5 ± 0.06 SE, and the size ranges from 50 to 1200 μm. The number of spermatic cysts ranges from 2.6 ± 0.19 SE to 5.0 ± 0.21SE, and their sizes range from 50 to 800 μm. These values are comparable to the reproductive trends and features found in gorgonians from other latitudes, which correspond in some cases with similar morphotypes. These coincident strategies could be related to morphological similarities rather than with latitude or water temperature. The results of this study indicate that octocoral morphology may play a crucial role in determining the reproductive output of these organisms.


Soft Coral Spinosa Reproductive Pattern Oocyte Size Large Oocyte 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Financial support for this study was provided by a European Comission fellowship within the programme “Training and Mobility of Researchers” (TMR-CT97-2813), by CICYT (Spanisch Antarctic Research Programme) grants ANT98-1739-E and ANT099-1608-E, and by the programme “Acciones integradas hispano-alemanas” (314-Al-e-dr/ia. “Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia” and DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst). We are indebted to Andrew Clarke, Miriam Fernández, and two anonymous referees whose comments improved very much the end version of the manuscript. We also thank Nuria Teixidó, Patricia Pinto, and Kerstin Beyer for their laboratory assistance. The authors are grateful to many colleagues who helped onboard, and especially to officers and crew of RV “Polarstern” for their cooperation and hospitality during the EASIZ II cruise.


  1. Aliño PM, Coll JC (1989) Observations of the synchronised mass spawning and post-settlement activity of octocorals on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia: biological aspects. Bull Mar Sci 45:697–707Google Scholar
  2. Arnaud PM (1974) Contribution à la binomie marine benthique des régions antarctiques et subantarctiques. Téthys 6:465–656Google Scholar
  3. Arntz WE, Gili JM (2001) A case for tolerance in marine ecology: let us put out the baby with the bath water. In: Gili JM, Pretus JL, Packard TT (eds) A marine science odissey into the 21st century. Sci Mar 65(Suppl 2):283–299Google Scholar
  4. Arntz WE, Gutt J (1997) The expedition Antarktis XIII/3 (EASIZ I) of RV “Polarstern” to the eastern Weddell Sea in 1996. Ber Polarforsch 249:148Google Scholar
  5. Arntz WE, Gutt J (1999) The expedition Antarktis XV/3 (EASIZ II) of RV “Polarstern” to the eastern Weddell Sea in 1998. Ber Polarforsch 301:229Google Scholar
  6. Arntz WE, Brey T, Gerdes D, Gorny M, Gutt J, Hain S, Klages M (1992) Patterns of life history and population dynamics of benthic invertebrates under the high Antarctic conditions of the Weddell Sea. In: Olson, Olson (eds) Proceedings of the 27th EMB symposium, Ferrara, September 1990, vol 370 pp 221–230Google Scholar
  7. Arntz WE, Brey T, Gallardo VA (1994) Antarctic zoobenthos. Oceanogr Mar Biol Ann Rev 32:241–304Google Scholar
  8. Barnes DKA (1996) Low levels of colonisation in Antarctica: the role of bryozoans in early community development. In: Gordon DP, Smith AM, Grant-Mackie JA (eds) Bryozoans in space and time. NIWA, Wellington, pp 19–28Google Scholar
  9. Barnes DKA, Clarke A (1998) Seasonality of polypide recycling and sexual reproduction in some erect Antarctic bryozoans. Mar Biol 131:647–658CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Barthel D, Gutt J (1992) Sponge associations in the eastern Weddell Sea. Ant Sci 4:137–150Google Scholar
  11. Bayer FM (1996) New primnoid gorgonians (Coelenterata: Octocorallia) from Antarctic waters. Bull Mar Sci 58(2):511–530Google Scholar
  12. Behety-González PA, Guardiola M (1979) Ciclo reproductivo de Plexaura homomalla (Esper, 1792) forma kuekenthali Moser, 1921 (Gorgonacea). Acad Ser Cien Cuba Biol 3:99–104Google Scholar
  13. Benayahu Y (1989) Reproductive cycle and developmental processes during embryogenesis of Clavularia hamra (Cnidaria: Octocorallia). Acta Zool Stockh 70(1):29–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Benayahu Y, Loya Y (1983) Surface brooding in the red sea soft coral Parerythropodium fulvum fulvum (Forskal, 1775). Biol Bull Mar Biol Lab Woods Hole 165:353–369Google Scholar
  15. Benayahu Y, Loya Y (1984) Life history studies on the Red Sea soft coral X. macrospiculata Gohar, 1940. I. Annual dynamics of gonadal development. Biol Bull (Woods Hole Mass) 166:32–43Google Scholar
  16. Benayahu Y, Loya Y (1986) Sexual reproduction of a soft coral: synchronous and brief annual spawning of Sarcophyton glaucum (Quoy and Gaimard, 1833). Biol Bull 170:32–42Google Scholar
  17. Benayahu Y, Berner T, Achituv Y (1989) Development of planulae within a mesogleal coat in the soft coral Heteroxenia fuscescens. Mar Biol 100:203–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Benayahu Y, Weil D, Kleinman M (1990) Radiation of broadcasting and brooding patterns in coral reef alcyonaceans. In: Hoshi M, Yamashita O (eds) Advances in invertebrate reproduction, vol 5. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 323–328Google Scholar
  19. Berkman PA, Waller TR, Alexander SP (1991) Unprotected larval development in the Antarctic scallop Adamussium colbecki (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Pectinidae). Ant Sci 3:7–151Google Scholar
  20. Brazeau DA, Lasker HR (1989) The reproductive cycle and spawning in a Caribbean gorgonian. Biol Bull 176:1–7Google Scholar
  21. Brazeau DA, Lasker HR (1990) Sexual reproduction and external brooding by the Caribbean gorgonian Briareum asbestinum. Mar Biol 104:465–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Brito TAS, Tyler PA, Clarke A (1997) Reproductive biology of the Antarctic octocoral Thouarella variabilis Wright and Studer 1889. In: Proceedings of the sixth international conference on coelenterate biology, 1995, pp 63–69Google Scholar
  23. Chia FS, Crawford BJ (1973) Some observations on gametogenesis, larval development and susbtratum selection of the sea-pen Ptilosarcus guerneyi. Mar Biol 23:73–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Chornesky EA, Peters EC (1987) Sexual reproduction and colony growth in the scleractinian coral Porites astreoides. Biol Bull 172:161–177Google Scholar
  25. Clarke A (1992) Reproduction in the cold: Thorson revisited. Invert Reprod Dev 22:175–184Google Scholar
  26. Coma R, Lasker HR (1997) Effects of spatial distribution and reproductive biology on in situ fertilisation rates of a broadcast-spawning invertebrate. Biol Bull 193:20–29Google Scholar
  27. Coma R, Ribes M, Zabala M, Gili JM (1995a) Reproduction and cycle of gonadal development in the Mediterranean gorgonian Paramuricea clavata. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 117:173–183Google Scholar
  28. Coma R, Zabala M, Gili JM (1995b) Sexual reproductive effort in the Mediterranean gorgonian Paramuricea clavata. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 117:185–192Google Scholar
  29. Connell JH (1973) Population ecology of reef-building corals. In: Jones OA, Endean R (eds) Biology and geology of coral reefs II Biology. Academic, New York, pp 205–245Google Scholar
  30. Dahan M, Benayahu Y (1997) Reproduction of Dendronephthya hemprichi (Cnidaria: Octocorallia): year-round spawning in an azooxanthellae soft coral. Mar Biol 129:David and Mooi 1990Google Scholar
  31. Fadlallah YH (1983) Sexual reproduction, development and larval biology in scleractinian corals. Coral Reefs 2:129–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. FadlallahYH, Pearse JS (1982a) Sexual reproduction in solitary corals: overlapping oogenic and brooding cycles, and benthic planulas in Balanophyllia elegans. Mar Biol 71:223–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. FadlallahYH, Pearse JS (1982b) Sexual reproduction in solitary corals: synchronous gametogenesis and broadcast spawning in Paracyathus stearnsii. Mar Biol 71:233–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Fautin DG, Mariscal RN (1991) Cnidaria: Anthozoa. In: Harrison FH (ed) Microscopic anatomy of invertebrates, vol 2: Placozoa, porifera, cnidaria, and ctenophora. Wiley, New York, pp 267–358Google Scholar
  35. Galéron J, Herman RL, Arnaud PM, Arntz WE, Hain S, Klages M (1992) Macrofaunal communities on the continental shelf and slope of the southeastern Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Polar Biol 12(2):283–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Gambi MC, Giangrande A, Patti FP (2000) Comparative observations on reproductive biology of four species of Perkinsiana (Polychaeta: Sabellidae: Sabellinae). Bull Mar Sci 67(1):299–309Google Scholar
  37. Goldberg W, Hamilton R (1974) The sexual cycle in Plexaura homomalla. In: Bayer FM, Weinheimer AJ (eds) Prostaglandins from Plexaura homomalla: ecology, utilization, and conservation of a major medical marina resource. University of Florida Press, Coral GablesGoogle Scholar
  38. Gorny M, George MR (1997) Oocyte development and gonadal production of Nematocarcinus lanceopes (Decapoda: Caridea) in the eastern Weddell Sea (Antarctica). Polar Biol 17(3):191–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Gorny M, Arntz WE, Clarke A, Gore DJ (1992) Reproductive biology of caridean decapods from the Weddell Sea. Polar Biol 12(1):111–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Gorny M, Brey T, Arntz W, Bruns T (1993) Growth, development and productivity of Chorismus antarcticum (Pfeffer) (Crustacea: Decapoda: Natantia) in the eastern Weddell Sea (Antarctica). J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 174(2):261–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Grigg RW (1977) Population dynamics of two gorgonian corals. Ecology 58:278–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Gutt J (1991) On the distribution and ecology of holothurians in the Weddell Sea (Antarctica). Polar Biol 11:145–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Gutt J, Gerdes D, Klages M (1992) Seasonality and spatial variability in the reproduction of two Antarctic holothurians (Echinodermata). Polar Biol 11(8):533–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hain S, Arnaud PM (1992) Notes on the reproduction of high Antarctic molluscs from the Weddell Sea. Polar Biol 12(2):303–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hall VR, Hughes TP (1996) Reproductive strategies of modular organisms: comparative studies of reef-building corals. Ecology 77(3):950–963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Harper JL (1977) Population biology of plants. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. Harrison PL, Wallace CC (1990) Reproduction, dispersal and recruitment of scleractinian corals. In: Dubinsky Z (ed) Ecosystems of the world. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 133–204Google Scholar
  48. Hughes DJ (1989) Variation in reproductive strategy among clones of the bryozoan Celleporella hyalina. Ecol Monogr 59:387–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Hughes TP, Jackson JBC (1980) Do corals lie about their age? Some demographic consequences of partial predation, fission and fusion. Science 209:713–715CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Kapela W, Lasker HR (1999) Size-dependent reproduction in the Caribbean gorgonian Pseudoplexaura porosa. Mar Biol 135(1):107–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kinzie RA (1970) The ecology of the gorgonians (Cnidaria, Octocorallia) of Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Ph.D. Thesis, Yale University, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  52. Kinzie RA (1974) Plexaura homomalla: the biology and ecology of a harvestable marine resource. In: Bayer FM, Weinheimer AJ (eds) Prostaglandins from Plexaura homomalla. Studies in Tropical Oceanography No. 12. Coral Gables, Florida, pp 22–38Google Scholar
  53. Klages M (1993) Distribution, reproduction and population dynamics of the Antarctic gammaridean amphipod Eusirus perdentatus Chevreux, 1912 (Crustacea). Ant Sci 5(4):349–359Google Scholar
  54. Kojis BL, Quinn NJ (1982) Reproductive ecology of two faviid corals (Coelenterata: Scleractinia). Mar Ecol Progr Ser 8:251–255Google Scholar
  55. Kruger A, Schleyer MH, Benayahu Y (1998) Reproduction in Anthelia glauca (Octocorallia: Xeniidae). I. Gametogenesis and larval brooding. Mar Biol 131:423–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Levitan DR (1993) The importance of sperm limitation to the evolution of egg size in marine invertebrates. Am Nat 141:517–536CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Levitan DR (1996a) Effects of gamete traits on fertilization in the sea and the evolution of sexual dimorphism. Nature 382:153–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Levitan DR (1996b) Predicting optimal and unique egg sizes in free spawning marine invertebrates. Am Nat 148:174–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Luxmoore RA (1982) The reproductive biology of some serolid isopods from the Antarctic. Polar Biol 1:3–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Marsh AG, Leong PKK, Manahan DT (1999) Energy metabolism during embryonic development and larval growth of an Antarctic sea urchin. J Exp Biol 202:2041–2050PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Martin E (1982) Ciclo reproductivo, proporción sexual y fecundidad del coral blando Plexaura homomalla (Esper.) en el mar Caribe Mexicano (Octocorallia: Plexauridae). An Inst Cien Mar Limnol Univ Natl Autón México 9:359–380Google Scholar
  62. McClintock JB, Baker BJ (1997) Palatability and chemical defence of eggs, embryos and larvae of shallow-water Antarctic marine Invertebrata. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 154:121–131Google Scholar
  63. Meidlinger K, Tyler PA, Peck LS (1998) Reproductive patterns in the Antarctic brachiopod Liothyrella uva. Mar Biol 132(1):153–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Mileikowsky SA (1971) Types of larval development in marine bottom invertebrates, their distribution and ecological significance: a re-evaluation. Mar Biol 10:193–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Mühlenhardt-Siegel U (1988) Some results on quantitative investigations of macrozoobenthos in the Scotia Arc (Antarctica). Polar Biol 8:241–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Orejas C, López-González PJ, Gili JM, Teixidó N, Gutt J, Arntz WE (2002) Patterns of density and reproductive ecology of the Antarctic octocoral Ainigmaptilon antarcticum in the Weddell Sea. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 231:101–114Google Scholar
  67. Pearse JS, Lockhart SJ (2004) Reproduction in cold water: paradigm changes in the 20th century and role for cidaroid sea urchins. Deep-Sea Res II 51:1533–1549CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Pearse JS, McClintock JB, Bosch I (1991) Reproduction of Antarctic marine invertebrates: tempos, modes and timing. Am Zool 31:65–80Google Scholar
  69. Peck LS, Robinson K (1994) Pelagic larval development in the brooding brachiopod Liothyrella uva. Mar Biol 120(2):279–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Pörtner HO (2002) Climate variations and the physilogical basis of temperature dependent biogeography: systemic to molecular hierarchy of thermal tolerance in animals. Comp Bioch Physiol 132A:739–761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Pörtner HO, van Dijk P, Hardewig I, Sommer A (2000) Levels of metabolic cold adaptation, tradeoffs in eurythermal and stenothermal ecotherms. In: Davison W, Howard-Williams C, Broady P (eds) Antarctic ecosystems: models for wider ecological understanding. Caxton, Christchurch, pp 109–122Google Scholar
  72. Poulin E, Féral JP (1996) Why are there so many species of brooding Antarctic echinoids? Evolution 50(2):820–830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Rice AL, Tyler PA, Paterson GJL (1992) The pennatulacean Kophobelemnon stelliferum (Cnidaria: Octocorallia) in the Porcupine Seabight (North-east Atlanctic Ocean). J Mar biol Ass UK 72:417–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Rinkevich B, Loya Y (1979) The reproduction of the Red Sea coral Stylophora pistillata. I. Gonads and planulae. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 1:133–144Google Scholar
  75. Sará A, Cerrano C, Sará M (2002) Viviparous development in the Antarctic sponge Stylocordyla borealis Loven, 1868. Pol Biol 25(6):425–431Google Scholar
  76. Slattery M, McClintock J (1997) An overview of the population biology and chemical ecology of three species of Antarctic soft corals. SCAR Proc pp 309–315Google Scholar
  77. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry. Freeman, San Francisco, p 859Google Scholar
  78. Stanwell-Smith D, Clarke A (1998) The timing of reproduction in the Antarctic limpet Nacella concinna (Strebel, 1908) (Patellidae) at Signy Island, in relation to environmental variables. J Mollusc Stud 64:123–127Google Scholar
  79. Stanwell-Smith D, Peck LS (1998) Temperature and embryonic development in relation to spawning and field occurrence of larvae of three Antarctic echinoderms. Biol Bull 194:44–52Google Scholar
  80. Starmans A, Gutt J, Arntz WE (1999) Mega-epibenthic communities in Arctic and Antarctic shelf areas. Mar Biol 135:269–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Stiller M (1996) Distribution and biology of the aphroditides and polynoids (Polychaeta) in the eastern Weddell Sea and the Lazarev Sea (Antarctica). Ber Polarforsch 185:1–200Google Scholar
  82. Stimson JS (1978) Mode and timing of reproduction in some common hermatypic corals of Hawaii and Enewetak. Mar Biol 48:173–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Szmant AM (1986) Reproductive ecology of Caribbean reef corals. Coral Reefs 5:43–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Szmant-Froehlich A (1985) The effect of colony size on the reproductive ability of the Caribbean coral Montastrea annularis (Ellis and Solander). In: Proceedings of the fifth international coral reef congress, Tahiti, vol 158, pp 295–300Google Scholar
  85. Thorson G (1950) Reproductive and larval ecology of marine bottom invertebrates. Biol Rev 25:1–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Vighi M (1972) Etude sur la reproduction du Corallium rubrum (L). Vie et Milieu XXIII(1):21–32Google Scholar
  87. Voß J (1988) Zoogeographie und Gemeinschaftsanalyse des Makrozoobenthos des Weddellmeeres (Antarktis). Ber Polarforsch 45:1–145Google Scholar
  88. Wallace CC (1985) Reproduction, recruitment and fragmentation in nine sympatric species of the coral genus Acropora. Mar Biol 88:217–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Wasson K, Newberry AT (1997) Modular metazoans: gonochoric, hermaphroditic, or both at once? Inv Rep Dev 31(1–3):159–175Google Scholar
  90. Weinberg S, Weinberg F (1979) The life cycle of a gorgonian: Eunicella singularis (Esper 1794). Bijdr Dierk 48:127–140Google Scholar
  91. White MG (1977) Ecological adaptations by Antarctic poikilotherms to the polar marine environment. In: Llano GA (ed) Adaptations within Antarctic ecosystems. The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, pp 197–208Google Scholar
  92. White MG (1984) Marine benthos. In: Laws RM (ed) Antarctic ecology, vol 2. Academic, London, pp 421–461Google Scholar
  93. Yamazo KM, Sato M, Yamashiro H (1981) Reproductive biology of an alcyonacean coral Lobophytum crassum Marenzeller. In: Proceedings of the fourth international coral reef symposium, vol 2, pp 671–678Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Orejas
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • J. M. Gili
    • 1
  • P. J. López-González
    • 3
  • C. Hasemann
    • 2
  • W. E. Arntz
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut de Ciències del Mar, CMIMA-CSICPasseig Marítim de la BarcelonetaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  3. 3.Dpto. Fisiología y Zoología, Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad de SevillaSevillaSpain

Personalised recommendations