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The reproductive cycle of the sea urchin Arbacia lixula in northwest Mediterranean: potential influence of temperature and photoperiod

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Abstract

We studied the reproductive cycle of the sea urchin Arbacia lixula in a subtidal population from northeast Spain over four years using a gonadosomatic index (GSI) and gonad histology. Our results show that the GSI of A. lixula follows a seasonal cycle which peaks in May–July and attains its lowest values in October–November every year. The time course of the GSI matched closely the photoperiod cycle. We also found a remarkable inter-annual variability in the maximum value of GSI, which correlated with mean water temperature during the gonad growth period (winter and spring). Gonad histology was also in agreement with a single gametogenic cycle per year in this species. We explored the application of circular statistics to present and analyse gonadal development data, which allowed us to adequately handle the high intra-individual variability detected, with several developmental stages commonly found within the same gonad. The picture that emerged is one of a gametogenic timing driven by photoperiod, while the amount of reproductive output is determined by temperature. This is coherent with the tropical origin of the species and lends support to recent warnings about an increase in the abundance of this species in the Mediterranean as a result of global warming, with associated increased impact potential in sublittoral communities.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Sandra Garcés, Alex García-Cisneros, Patrick Erwin, Núria Massana, Mari Carmen Pineda and Guillem Santamaria for help with sampling and Sandra Ortiz and Marta Jové for laboratory assistance. We are indebted to Ramón Roqueta and the staff of Andrea’s Diving (Tossa de Mar) for assistance in the field. This work was funded by projects CTM2010-22218 from the Spanish Government, 2009SGR-484 from the Catalan Government, BIOCON 08-187/09 from BBVA Foundation and 287844 (COCONET) of the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013).

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Correspondence to Owen S. Wangensteen.

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Communicated by M. Byrne.

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227_2013_2303_MOESM1_ESM.tif

Fig. S1 Comparison between monthly values (mean ± SE) of the gonadosomic index chosen in this work (GSI, % wet weight) and two other gonadosomatic indices, GSI-DW (% dry weight) and Nédélec GSI. (dry weight of the gonads divided by test diameter cubed) (TIFF 3937 kb)

227_2013_2303_MOESM2_ESM.tif

Fig. S2 Monthly mean sea surface temperature measured at L’Estartit Meteorological Station (red dashed line) and daily mean sea surface temperature measured in situ at Tossa de Mar during part of the present study (blue continuous line) showing the good correlation between both measurements. (TIFF 4001 kb)

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Wangensteen, O.S., Turon, X., Casso, M. et al. The reproductive cycle of the sea urchin Arbacia lixula in northwest Mediterranean: potential influence of temperature and photoperiod. Mar Biol 160, 3157–3168 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-013-2303-8

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