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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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A female Clarkcoma pulchra spawning eggs. This species has a lecithotrophic larva. Photo: David Hariasti,

Falkner I, Sewell MA, Byrne M


Evolution of maternal provisioning in ophiuroid echinoderms: characterisation of egg composition in planktotrophic and lecithotrophic developers


For most marine animals the egg represents the unit of maternal investement to support their offspring. Egg nutrients differ greatly in species that have feeding and non-feeding larvae. This planktotrophic-lecithotrophic dichotomy is of major importance for marine population ecology and life-history theory. Echinoderms have provided great insights into the relationships between egg nutrients and life-history mode and Falkner and co-workers present data for a poorly studied group, the brittle stars. Analysis of egg lipids in 10 species show the differences (e.g. presence of novel lipids) between the brittle star eggs and those of star fish and sea urchins, providing support for the hypothesis of independent evolution of lecithotrophy multiple times within the Echinodermata.


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