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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 236:113-119 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps236113

In situ measures of spawning synchrony and fertilization success in an intertidal, free-spawning invertebrate

Dustin John Marshall*

Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia

ABSTRACT: The rocky intertidal zone has the potential to be one of the harshest environments for free-spawning organisms, but empirical data on fertilization success are scarce. Here, I report on an intertidal, solitary ascidian, Pyura stolonifera, which was observed to spawn at low tide. At a scale likely to be most important to gametes (metres, duration of tide), approximately 30% of individuals in the population were spawning synchronously. Spawned gametes remained in a viscous matrix and this appeared to minimise their dilution. Fertilization success varied greatly among individuals (0 to 92%) and was related to the distance to the nearest neighbouring spawner. Occasional wave wash facilitated the movement of sperm between spawners. Fertilization success in some individuals was limited by the scarcity of sperm whilst the experimental addition of sperm did not increase success in others.

KEY WORDS: Fertilization kinetics · Broadcast spawner · Ascidian · Reproductive success

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