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Chapter 4,691

Age structure and spawning of a northumberland population of melinna cristata polychaeta ampharetidae

Hutchings, P.A.

Marine Biology 18(3): 218-227

1973


ISSN/ISBN: 0025-3162
DOI: 10.1007/bf00367988
Accession: 004690327

A Northumberland (England) population of Melinna cristata was studied from October, 1967 to February, 1970. M. cristata is a gregarious sedentary polychaete which lives in muddy substrates. It is dioecious, and has a very restricted breeding season. The gametes are shed solely by the two pairs of posterior nephridia, which undergo morphological changes just before the breeding season; this allows them to accommodate the mature gametes. After spawning, these nephridia ternal and, within 2 to 3 weeks of spawning, the benthic larvae metamorphose into juveniles. The juveniles grow from 3 to 10 mm during their first year, and can be distinguished from the rest of the population by their size and the complete absence of coelomic gametes. After about 12 months, the juveniles release their first batch of gametes into the coelom from the germinal epithelium, and they then cannot be distinguished from the rest of the population. The development of coelomic gametes takes 7 to 10 months to complete, so M. cristata is potentially capable of breeding for the first time when 2 years old. The majority of worms survive spawning, and M. cristata probably breeds annually for several years. In this population, not all potential breeders spawn, some resorb their mature gametes and release another batch of gametes into the coelom. The Northumberland population of M. cristata is near the southernmost limit of the species distribution, which suggests that environmental conditions for this population are not optimum. The population appears to maintain itself by producing fewer oocytes and by only part of the population spawning.

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