Marine Biology

, Volume 154, Issue 2, pp 219–230 | Cite as

Reproduction in Heteroteuthis dispar (Rüppell, 1844) (Mollusca: Cephalopoda): a sepiolid reproductive adaptation to an oceanic lifestyle

  • H. J. T. HovingEmail author
  • V. Laptikhovsky
  • U. Piatkowski
  • B. Önsoy
Research Article


Small cephalopods of the genus Heteroteuthis are the most pelagic members in the family Sepiolidae. This study examines the reproductive biology of Heteroteuthis dispar (Rüppell, 1844), the first such study on any member of the genus, based on 46 specimens (27 females and 19 males) collected during the Mar-Eco cruise in the North Atlantic in the region of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in 2004, and compares it with reproductive features in the less pelagic members of the family. The unusually large spermatophores of the males have a very small ejaculatory apparatus and cement body, relative to the size of the sperm mass. Females first mate when they are still maturing: a large sperm mass (up to 3.4% of the female body mass), consisting of one to several spermatangia, was found in an internal seminal receptacle of the majority of the females examined regardless of their maturity state. The seminal receptacle has a unique form and position in this species. The receptacle is a thin-walled sac at the posterior end of the visceral mass that is an outpocketing of, and opens into, the visceropericardial coelom. Spermatangia and sperm from the spermatangia apparently enter into the visceropericardial coelom (which is mostly occupied by the ovary) from the seminal receptacle indicating that ova are fertilised internally, a strategy unknown for decapodiform cephalopods (squid and cuttlefish), but present in most octopods. Fecundity of Heteroteuthis dispar (1,100–1,300 oocytes) is much higher than in other sepiolids whereas the egg size (mean max. length ∼1.6 mm) is the smallest within the family. Spawning is continuous (sensu Rocha et al. in Biol Rev 76:291–304, 2001). These and other reproductive traits are discussed as being adaptations to an oceanic lifestyle.


Seminal Receptacle Male Reproductive System Oocyte Size Bursa Copulatrix Oviducal Gland 
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.



The valuable help of and the fruitful discussions with Dr. R.E. Young during dissections on H. dispar in Bergen Museum are greatly appreciated. Also comments by Dr. R.E. Young on an earlier draft of this paper greatly improved the quality of the manuscript. Mar-Eco and the Census of Marine Life are thanked for financial support during the workshop in Bergen University Museum and for the collection of the animals. The staff of the Bergen Museum of Natural History is thanked for their help during the workshop. Mr. Odo Wieringa of the pathology and histology department (University Medical Centre Groningen) is thanked for the preparation of histological sections of the hectocotylus. Deniz Haydar is thanked for her help with the illustrations and the English language.

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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2008

Open AccessThis is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License (, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. J. T. Hoving
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. Laptikhovsky
    • 2
  • U. Piatkowski
    • 3
  • B. Önsoy
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Groningen, CEES, Ocean EcosystemsHarenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Falkland Islands Fisheries DepartmentStanleyFalkland Islands
  3. 3.Leibniz-Institut fur Meereswissenschaften, IFM-GEOMARKielGermany

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