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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 356:189-202 (2008)  -  DOI:

Reproductive strategies of benthic invertebrates in the Kara Sea (Russian Arctic): adaptation of reproduction modes to cold water

Ingo Fetzer1,*, Wolf E. Arntz2

1Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ), Dept. Environmental Microbiology, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
2Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Columbusstrasse, 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany

ABSTRACT: Many benthic invertebrates in the boreo-Atlantic region reproduce via pelagic larvae. Past investigations in polar areas suggested a greater predominance of species lacking a pelagic phase. In this study, the reproduction strategies of the main 88 species of the Kara Sea were investigated. Field observations were supplemented by literature studies (reproduction period and strategy, biogeographical affiliation). Larvae of 44 meroplanktonic species were identified, but adult forms of only 23 of these species are known from the region. For the other 21 larval types, adults were not present in the Kara Sea but have previously been recorded in the adjacent Barents Sea. Larval transport processes are thus potentially important for the import of species into the region. High numbers of species of temperate origin were common, and had a strong influence on the overall reproduction patterns of the region. The southern Kara Sea was mainly dominated by 2 groups: highly mobile crustaceans, which are obligate non-pelagic developers, and non-motile organisms with primarily pelagic reproduction modes. We propose that reproduction patterns are strongly influenced by the highly variable environmental conditions of the Kara Sea which, via ice-scouring and the high input of freshwater from the 2 adjacent rivers, regularly lead to a local depletion of the benthic species. The input of warm freshwater from the rivers enhances the survival of species with a boreal biogeographical distribution, which additionally contributes to the high number of species with pelagic development that were found. Overall, the reproduction modes of benthic invertebrates in the Kara Sea are thus strongly governed by the local environmental conditions characteristic of the region.

KEY WORDS: Arctic · Kara Sea · Benthos · Biogeography · Reproduction types · Reproduction period

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Cite this article as: Fetzer I, Arntz WE (2008) Reproductive strategies of benthic invertebrates in the Kara Sea (Russian Arctic): adaptation of reproduction modes to cold water. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 356:189-202.

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