MEPS 195:305-309 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps195305

Intraspecific co-variation between egg and body size affects fertilisation kinetics of free-spawning marine invertebrates

Dustin J. Marshall*, Craig A. Styan, Michael J. Keough

Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3052, Australia

ABSTRACT: Fertilisation of eggs of free-spawning marine invertebrates depends on factors affecting sperm concentration in the field and also on gamete characteristics such as egg size. In the free-spawning intertidal ascidian Pyura stolonifera mean egg size increased with maternal size in 2 separate populations. The largest ascidian produced eggs that were, on average, 50% greater in volume than the eggs produced by the smallest individual studied. There was no evidence to suggest that egg density varied with adult size and egg dry organic weight increased with maternal size. The fertilisation kinetics of this species were strongly affected by the variation in egg size, with the eggs of large individuals requiring much less concentrated sperm to achieve maximal levels of fertilisation success than the eggs of small individuals. We suggest that variation in egg size between individuals of different sizes and ages may be an important factor in determining fertilisation success for ascidians of this species.

KEY WORDS: Fertilisation dynamics · Egg size · Ascidian

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