Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 10, pp 1987–2000 | Cite as

Chemical Defense of Early Life Stages of Benthic Marine Invertebrates

  • Niels Lindquist


Accurate knowledge of factors affecting the survival of early life stages of marine invertebrates is critically important for understanding their population dynamics and the evolution of their diverse reproductive and life-history characteristics. Chemical defense is an important determinant of survival for adult stages of many sessile benthic invertebrates, yet relatively little consideration has been given to chemical defenses at the early life stages. This review examines the taxonomic breadth of early life-stage chemical defense in relation to various life-history and reproductive characteristics, as well as possible constraints on the expression of chemical defense at certain life stages. Data on the localization of defensive secondary metabolites in larvae and the fitness-related consequences of consuming even a small amount of toxic secondary metabolites underpin proposals regarding the potential for Müllerian and Batesian mimicry to occur among marine larvae. The involvement of microbial symbionts in the chemical defense of early life stages illustrates its complexity for some species. As our knowledge of chemical defenses in early life stages grows, we will be able to more rigorously examine connections among phylogeny, chemical defenses, and the evolution of reproductive and life-history characteristics among marine invertebrates.

Chemical defense juveniles larvae life-history evolution marine invertebrates mimicry predation reproductivecharacteristics symbiosis taxonomic constraints 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niels Lindquist
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Sciences ProgramUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute of Marine SciencesMorehead CityUSA

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