MEPS 467:147-166 (2012)  -  doi:10.3354/meps09960

Ocean conditions and bottom-up modifications of gonad development in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus over space and time

T. A. Ebert1,*, J. C. Hernández2,3, M. P. Russell2

1Dept. Zoology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA
2Dept. Biology, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania 19085-1699, USA
3Present address: Dpto. Biología Animal (Ciencias Marinas), Univ. de La Laguna, Tenerife, Islas Canarias

ABSTRACT: Intraspecific life history attributes of growth, survival, and reproduction can vary in response to changes in the physical environment. These changes can induce a cascading effect across trophic levels. In marine systems, shifts in ocean conditions such as warm and cold phases of ENSO can change primary production in benthic algae, which in turn modify resources available to benthic omnivores. Monthly gonad samples of the purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus were taken from 2007 to mid-2009 at sites from Vancouver Island, Canada, to Punta Baja, Mexico. Although mean sea surface temperature (SST) changed by ~8°C from north to south, latitudinal patterns of size-specific gonad weight were not detected, although differences existed across sites. At individual sites, mean SST changed by <1°C from 2007 to 2009. Gonad index data from Yankee Point, California (USA), from 1952 to 1964 included mean annual temperatures that varied by 2.4°C and both strong El Niño and La Niña events. Yankee Point data showed significant (p ≤0.01) correlations with the Multivariate ENSO Index, SST, the Northern Oscillation Index, and the Oceanic Niño Index. Dissections at other sites along the coast from mid-1960 to 2009 showed that size-specific gonad weights were lower during periods of El Niño than during periods of La Niña.


KEY WORDS: Allometry · Pacific coast · Gonad cycle · Intertidal · ENSO · Sea surface temperature · Multivariate ENSO Index · Latitudinal patterns


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Cite this article as: Ebert TA, Hernández JC, Russell MP (2012) Ocean conditions and bottom-up modifications of gonad development in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus over space and time. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 467:147-166

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