Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 649–662 | Cite as

Influence of habitat on the reproductive biology of the deep-sea hydrothermal vent limpet Lepetodrilus fucensis (Vetigastropoda: Mollusca) from the Northeast Pacific

Research Article


Habitat selection by the hydrothermal vent limpet, Lepetodrilus fucensis, in Northeast Pacific hydrothermal vent ecosystems, may influence its reproductive output, as it occupies habitats with varying physico-chemical conditions that reflect the availability of nutritional resources. Histological techniques were used to determine size at first reproduction, gametogenesis, reproductive output, and fecundity in relation to shell length (SL), through examination of the gonads of male and female L. fucensis, collected from five different hydrothermal vent habitat types with different temperature anomalies and hydrothermal fluid flow vigour: vigorous (VIG), diffuse (DIF), tubeworm bushes (TWB), peripheral (PER), and senescent areas (SEN). Both male and female L. fucensis exhibited early maturity, with the first reproductive event occurring at 3.8 and 3.9 mm shell length, respectively. All stages of gamete development were present in the gonads of males and females, suggesting continuous gametogenesis and asynchronous reproduction in this species. Gametogenic maturity of limpets did not vary among actively venting habitats (VIG, DIF, TWB, and PER), but was significantly lower in males and females from SEN habitats. Mean oocyte diameter was largest in females from VIG habitats, and smallest in females from SEN habitats, than in those from the other habitats (DIF, TWB, and PER). Females from actively venting habitats also had greater actual fecundity than those from senescent habitats. While the gametogenic pattern of L. fucensis appears phylogenetically constrained, selection of actively venting habitats by L. fucensis maximizes its reproductive output. The multiple feeding strategies of L. fucensis may allow for a constant supply of energy to be allocated to reproduction in any habitat except senescent vents. Early maturity, high fecundity, and continuous production of gametes suggest a reproductive strategy characteristic of an opportunistic species, and may be contributing to the extremely abundant populations of L. fucensis observed in the Northeast Pacific vent ecosystem.



We wish to thank Amanda Bates and Verena Tunnicliffe for providing the L. fucensis specimens, and for extensive discussions regarding the reproductive biology of this species. The assistance provided by Patricia Colp with histological processing was invaluable. We also thank R. Scheibling for reviewing an earlier draft of this manuscript. This research was supported by a NSERC PGS D Scholarship and Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship to N. Kelly, and NSERC Discovery and CRO grants to A. Metaxas.


  1. Bates A (2006) Population and feeding characteristics of hydrothermal vent gastropods along environmental gradients with a focus on a bacterial symbiosis hosted by Lepetodrilus fucensis (Vetigastropoda). PhD thesis, Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria Google Scholar
  2. Bates AE, Tunnicliffe V, Lee RW (2005) Role of thermal conditions in habitat selection by hydrothermal vent gastropods. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 305:1–15Google Scholar
  3. Berg CJ Jr (1985) Reproductive strategies of mollusks from abyssal hydrothermal vent communities. Biol Soc Wash Bull 6:185–197Google Scholar
  4. Blake EA, van Dover CL (2005) The reproductive biology of Amathys lutzi, an ampharetid polychaete from hydrothermal vents on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Invertebr Biol 124:254–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. de Burgh ME, Singla CL (1984) Bacterial colonization and endocytosis on the gill of a new limpet species from a hydrothermal vent. Mar Biol 84:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chase RL, Delaney JR, Karsten JL, Johnson HP, Juniper SK, Lupton JE, Scott SD, Tunnicliffe V, Hammond SR, McDuff RE (1985) Hydrothermal vents on an axis seamount of the Juan de Fuca ridge. Nature 313:212–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Copley JTP, Young CM (2006) Seasonality and zonation in the reproductive biology and population structure of the shrimp Alvinocaris stactophila (Caridea: Alvinocarididae) at a Louisiana Slope cold seep. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 315: 199–209Google Scholar
  8. Copley JTP, Tyler PA, Van Dover CL, Philp SJ (2003) Spatial variation in the reproductive biology of Paralvinella palmiformis (Polychaeta: Alvinellidae) from a vent field on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 255:171–181Google Scholar
  9. Craddock C, Lutz RA, Vrijenhoek RC (1997) Patterns of dispersal and larval development of archaeogastropod limpets at hydrothermal vents in the eastern Pacific. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 210:37–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. DeFreese DE, Clark KB (1983) Analysis of reproductive energetics of Florida Opisthobranchia (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Int J Invertebr Reprod 6:1–10Google Scholar
  11. Eckelbarger KJ (1994) Diversity of metazoan ovaries and vitellogenic mechanisms: implications for life history theory. Proc Biol Soc Wash 107:193–218Google Scholar
  12. Eckelbarger KJ, Watling L (1995) Role of phylogenetic contraints in determining reproductive patterns in deep-sea invertebrates. Invertebr Biol 114:256–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Foster GG, Hodgson AN, Balarin M (1999) Effect of diet on growth rate and reproductive fitness of Turbo sarmaticus (Mollusca: Vetigastropoda: Turbinidae). Mar Biol 134:307–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fretter V (1988) New archaeogastropod limpets from hydrothermal vents; superfamily Lepetodrilacea II. Anatomy. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 319:33–82Google Scholar
  15. Gustafson RG, Lutz RA (1994) Molluscan life history traits at deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold methane/sulfide seeps. In: Young CM, Eckelbarger KJ (eds) Reproduction, larval biology, and recruitment of the deep-sea benthos. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Hilario A, Young CM, Tyler PA (2005) Sperm storage, internal fertilization, and embryonic dispersal in vent and seep tubeworms (Polychaeta: Siboglinidae: Vestimentifera). Biol Bull 208:20–28PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hodgson AN, Healy JM, Tunnicliffe V (1997) Spermatogenesis and sperm structure of the hydrothermal vent prosobranch gastropod Lepetodrilus fucensis (Lepetodrilidae, Mollusca). Invertebr Reprod Dev 31:87–97Google Scholar
  18. Jollivet D, Empis A, Baker MC, Hourdez S, Comtet T, Jouin-Toulmond C, Desbruyeres D, Tyler PA (2000) Reproductive biology, sexual dimorphism, and population structure of the deep sea hydrothermal vent scale-worm, Branchipolynoe seepensis (Polychaeta:Polynoidae). J Mar Biol Assoc UK 80:55–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kennish R (1997) Seasonal patterns of food availability: influences on the reproductive output and body condition of the herbivorous crab Grapsus albolineatus. Oecologia 109: 209–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lutz RA, Jablonski D, Turner RD (1984) Larval development and dispersal at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Science 226:1451–1454CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Marcus J, Tunnicliffe V (2002) Living on the edges of diffuse vents on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Cah Biol Mar 43: 263–266Google Scholar
  22. McHugh D, Tunnicliffe V (1994) Ecology and reproductive biology of the hydrothermal vent polychaete Amphisamytha galapagensis (Ampharetidae). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 106: 111–120Google Scholar
  23. McLean JH (1988) New archaeogastropod limpets from hydrothermal vents; superfamily Lepetodrilacea I. Systematic descriptions. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 319:1–32Google Scholar
  24. Metaxas A (2004) Spatial and temporal patterns in larval supply at hydrothermal vents on the Northeast Pacific ocean. Limnol Oceanogr 49:1949–1956CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pendlebury S (2005) Ecology of hydrothermal vent gastropods. PhD thesis. School of Ocean and Earth Sciences, Southampton, p 148Google Scholar
  26. Ramirez Llodra E (2002) Fecundity and life-history strategies in marine invertebrates. Adv Mar Biol 43:87–170PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ramirez Llodra E, Tyler PA, Billet DSM (2002) Reproductive biology of porcellanasterid asteroids from three abyssal sites in the northeast Atlantic with contrasting food input. Mar Biol 140:773–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sarrazin J, Juniper SK (1999) Biological characteristics of a hydrothermal edifice mosaic community. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 185:1–19Google Scholar
  29. Sarrazin J, Juniper SK, Massoth G, Legendre P (1999) Physical and chemical factors influencing species distributions on hydrothermal sulfide edifices of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, Northeast Pacific. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 190:89–112Google Scholar
  30. Sarrazin J, Robigou V, Juniper SK, Delaney JR (1997) Biological and geological dynamics over four years on a high-temp sulfide structure at the Juan de Fuca Ridge hydrothermal observatory. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 153:5–24Google Scholar
  31. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1981) Biometry. W.H. Freeman and Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Tsurumi M, Tunnicliffe V (2001) Characteristics of a hydrothermal vent assemblage on a volcanically active segment of Juan de Fuca Ridge, Northeast Pacific. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 58: 530–542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tsurumi M, Tunnicliffe V (2003) Tubeworm-associated communities at hydrothermal vents on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, Northeast Pacific. Deep Sea Res I 50:611–629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tunnicliffe V, Juniper SK, Sibuet M (2003) Reducing environments of the deep-sea floor. In: Tyler PA (ed) Ecosystems of the deep oceans. Elsevier, Amsterdam, p 569Google Scholar
  35. Tyler PA, Young CM (1999) Reproduction and dispersal at vents and cold seeps. J Mar Biol Ass UK 79:193–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Van Dover CL, Factor JR, Williams AB, Berg CJ Jr (1985) Reproductive patterns of decapod crustaceans from hydrothermal vents. Biol Soc Wash Bull 6:223–227Google Scholar
  37. Van Dover CL, Fry B (1994) Microorganisms as food resources at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Limnol Oceanogr 39:51–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Waren A, Bouchet P (1989) New gastropods from east Pacific hydrothermal vents. Zool Scrip 18:67–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Webber HH (1977) Gastropoda: Prosobranchia. In: Giese AC, Pearse JS (eds) Reproduction of marine invertebrates. Academic, New York, pp 1–97Google Scholar
  40. Young CM (2003) Reproduction, development and life-history traits. In: Tyler PA (eds) Ecosystems of the deep oceans. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 381–426Google Scholar
  41. Zal F, Jollivet D, Chevaldonne P, Desbruyeres D (1995) Reproductive biology and population structure of the deep-sea hydrothermal vent worm Paralvinella grasslei (Polychaeta:Alvinellidae) at 13°N on the East Pacific Rise. Mar Biol 122:637–648CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OceanographyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

Personalised recommendations