Seasonality of reproduction in the cushion star Odontaster validus at Signy Island, Antarctica
The reproductive and larval biology of the common Antarctic cushion-star Odontaster validus Koehler (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) were studied in a shallow-water population at Signy Island in the maritime Antarctic. The gonad index peaked in April/May, and injection with 1-methyladenine indicated that competence to spawn peaked in May/June. Gastrulae were first detected in May, and maximal water-column larval densities were measured in July. Reproduction was therefore highly seasonal, although not all individuals appeared to spawn each year. The pyloric caeca index increased in summer (typically November to March, but variable between years) and decreased during winter (June to October), suggesting that feeding activity was seasonal. All aspects of biology investigated showed significant interannual variability. Comparison with previous studies in the high Antarctic at McMurdo Sound indicated a similar if more pronounced seasonality at Signy, but the warmer seawater temperatures in the maritime Antarctic (particularly in late winter/early spring from September onwards) resulted in faster larval development at Signy.
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