Pelagic larval development in the brooding Antarctic brachiopod Liothyrella uva
Larvae of the Antarctic brachiopod Liothyrella uva (Broderip, 1833) were released by brooding females between 10 and 15 January 1992. They were collected and cultured for the ensuing 45 d. At release they were at the gastrula stage, and were recognisable as the usual brachiopod three-lobed larva from around 18 d after release. At ≃22 d post-release, larvae began to congregate under shell fragments placed in culture vessels as potential settlement substrata. However, the larvae showed no signs of settlement which, combined with the absence of many of the attributes of mature larvae seen in previous studies, was taken as evidence that these larvae had not reached fully competent stages. Previous work had shown that L. uva spawns in October, indicating that the developmental period lasts for a minimum of between 115 and 160 d. The release and subsequent development of larvae also shows that what was previously thought to be a brooding species combines a long brooding period with a free-swimming phase. If this is true of other brachiopod species, then there may need to be a recategorization of some species from brooding to combined brooding and free-swimming developmental types. Even though the development period in L. uva was likely to have been underestimated because a fully competent stage was not reached, a comparison with development rates for temperate species indicated a slowing of between 8 and 70 times. This dramatic slowing of development rate in brachiopods now joins similar data previously reported for echinoderms and nemerteans, suggesting that this is a very widespred, perhaps universal, attribute of Antarctic marine invertebrates.