Breeding Patterns of Three Species of Caribbean Brittle Stars (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea)
Reproductive periodicity of three species of brittle stars at Barbados, W.I. was studied for one year using a gonad index technique. Ophiothrix oerstedi has a synchronous annual reproductive cycle with a breeding season that extended from mid-July until early December. Ophiothrix suensoni reproduces continuously, but individual reproductive cycles are asynchronous and there was higher spawning activity in the late summer and early fall. Ophiocoma echinata has an asynchronous annual reproductive cycle with a prolonged breeding season. Males of O. oerstedi and O. suensoni have significantly larger gonads than females at certain times during the breeding season; a large volume of spermatozoa may be required to compensate for sperm wastage during spawnings. Detailed information is presently available for reproductive periodicity of 19 species of tropical brittle stars. Contrary to earlier suggestions, prolonged breeding seasons and continuous reproduction are common in tropical brittle stars.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 April 1983
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