Reproduction, larval growth and metamorphosis of the nudibranch molluscs "Onchidoris bilamellata" (L.) and "Goniodoris nodosa" (Montagu)
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This study investigated the reproduction, larval growth and metamorphosis of the nudibranchs Onchidoris bilamellata (L.) and Goniodoris nodosa (Montagu) under controlled laboratory conditions. In addition, the rare occurrence of spawning events of O. bilamellata taking place in the field outwith the winter and spring reproductive period was studied. Onchidoris bilamellata and Goniodoris nodosa differ in the size and number of eggs produced per spawning event. In the present study O. bilamellata does not exhibit a clear spawning pattern, whereas G. nodosa lays increasingly smaller eggs and larvae as the season progresses. The diameter of the eggs of O. bilamellata is not correlated with the organic content per egg. The data available for G. nodosa were insufficient to analyse this relationship. The rates of larval growth and development are reported for Onchidoris bilamellata and Goniodoris nodosa. These variables do not differ significantly for O. bilamellata between cultures maintained under various light regimes, ranging from continuous darkness to continuous illumination, and are comparable to those of G. nodosa. The shell growth pattern exhibited by larvae of G. nodosa is sigmoid, similar to that of other opisthobranchs. Spawn masses laid during the winter and spring months were collected fresh from the field and compared to spawn masses collected from the field in July and September, outwith the typical spawning period of Onchidoris bilamellata in the British Isles. The shell size of the July and September hatchlings was significantly smaller than that of the winter and spring hatchlings. Furthermore, the larvae hatched from spawn masses laid in September cultured in the laboratory exhibited high mortality rates and the overwhelming majority did not survive through metamorphosis. The significance of the spawning activity of O. bilamellata past the typical spawning period of this species is discussed. The induction of metamorphosis of Onchidoris bilamellata was investigated using seawater containing elevated concentrations of potassium ion, and the results indicate that the optimal concentration inductive of metamorphosis is 19 mM K+ ASW, Metamorphosis experiments were also performed with the natural prey of O. bilamellata, the acorn barnacle Semibalanus balanoides (L.). The results suggest that pediveligers can be induced to metamorphose at a distance from the inductive substrata. Attempts were made to identify the natural inductive cue of Goniodoris nodosa, but this was not successful.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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