Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 4, pp 991–1002 | Cite as

Does spawning behavior minimize exposure to environmental stressors for encapsulated gastropod embryos on rocky shores?

Research Article

Abstract

Adults of motile intertidal invertebrates are able to seek shelter to avoid environmental stress associated with low tides, but embryos within egg masses are effectively sessile for the duration of their encapsulation. Gastropod egg masses from 34 taxa on two rocky shores in SE Australia (34°37′08″S, 150°92′03″E and 34°35′45″S, 150°53′20″E) were surveyed over 2 years (June 2002–May 2004) to test the hypothesis that eggs are deposited in patterns that minimize exposure to environmental stress. Egg masses were expected to be predominantly deposited in shaded habitats not prone to environmental extremes. It was also anticipated that the deposition of egg masses in habitats exposed to UVR, desiccation, and/or extremes in temperature would occur when exposure to these abiotic factors was minimized. Among the taxa investigated, only four species spawned in full sun (Bembicium nanum, Nerita morio, Siphonaria zelandica and S. denticulata). Summer had the highest UVR index, water temperature, and air temperature as well as the lowest daytime tides. Univariate and multivariate analyses confirmed that egg mass abundance was highest during summer, with no change in egg mass size. This study shows that those species depositing egg masses on the surfaces of rock platforms do not adjust the seasonal timing or macrohabitat location of their spawning to avoid physiologically stressful conditions, particularly UVR. Alternate reasons for the evolution of egg mass deposition behavior in apparently sub-optimal habitats are discussed, and it is almost certainly the complex interplay of a variety of highly species-specific factors that is responsible for the patterns observed.

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to K. Benkendorff, B. Rudman , P. Middlefart, and D. Beechey for assistance in species identification. M. Byrne and several anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments on this manuscript. This represents contribution 279 from the Ecology and Genetics group at the University of Wollongong.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Conservation Biology, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and EvolutionStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

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