Temperature and embryonic development in relation to spawning and field occurrence of larvae of three Antarctic echinoderms

The effects of temperature on development and viability were measured at 14 levels between -2{deg}C and +3{deg}C on embryos of two asteroids (Odontaster validus and Odontaster meridionalis) and an echinoid (Sterechinus neumayeri) from Signy Island, Antarctica. Development rates were 2 to 10 times slower than those for temperate or tropical echinoderms, with times to hatching up to 240 h. Development rates for the two asteroids differed by 1.15 x, and rates for both species approximately doubled over the experimental temperature range. In O. validus, embryo viability was independent of temperature, but in O. meridionalis viability declined with increasing temperature. Development rates for S. neumayeri were little affected by temperature above +0.2{deg}C, but declined rapidly at lower temperatures. Conversely, the number of nonviable eggs was low and constant below +1.7{deg}C, but rose rapidly at higher temperatures. A window of optimal temperature, between +0.2{deg}C and +1.7{deg}C, has therefore been proposed for development time and embryo viability in this population of S. neumayeri. Spawning trials and field observations of larvae indicated that the time of gamete release and periods of larval development in S. neumayeri coincided with austral summer sea temperatures in the same window. Embryos of O. meridionalis and O. validus are released in winter, when temperatures are constantly below -1.6{deg}C. Comparison of the different strategies suggests that larval food supply and predation during planktonic phases are not the dominant ecological factors for these species


Publication status:
Authors: Stanwell-Smith, D., Peck, L.S.

On this site: Lloyd Peck
1 January, 1998
Biological Bulletin / 194