Growth, reproduction and possible recruitment variability in the abyssal brittle star Ophiocten hastatum (Ophiuroidea: Echinodermata) in the NE Atlantic


Gage, J.D., Anderson, R.M., Tyler, P.A., Chapman, R. and Dolan, E. (2004) Growth, reproduction and possible recruitment variability in the abyssal brittle star Ophiocten hastatum (Ophiuroidea: Echinodermata) in the NE Atlantic. Deep-Sea Research I, 51, (6), 849-864. (doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2004.01.007).

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Description/Abstract

Growth was studied from skeletal growth markers in the cosmopolitan abyssal brittle star Ophiocten hastatm. Samples for analysis were taken at five sites located in the southern (2900 m) and central (2000 m) Rockall Trough, at ca. 3000 and 4000 m in the Porcupine Seabight, and at 4850 m on the Porcupine Abyssal Plain. Growth bands were assumed to reflect an annual cycle in skeletal growth. Band measurements on arm vertebrae, standardised to disc diameter, were used to provide size-at-age data and size-increment data that took into account overgrowth of early bands in older individuals. The Richards growth function marginally provides best fit to pooled size-at-age data, although the asymptote-less Tanaka function and the Gompertz growth function also provided good fit to size-at-age data which showed a rather linear growth pattern with little indication of a growth asymptote. Loge transformed size-increment data were linearised by applying the Ford–Walford method to approximate Gompertz growth so that growth could be compared at the five sites. Grouped linear regression and analysis of covariance showed no significant differences between growth at the sites and a common fitted regression. However, pairwise comparisons suggest growth differences with increasing bathymetric separation. Oocyte size frequencies measured from histological preparations of the gonad of specimens from the Porcupine Abyssal Plain indicate marked reproductive periodicity, with spawn-out in late winter that is likely followed by planktotrophic early development in spring with benthic settlement in summer. Although usually rare in the trawl and epibenthic sled samples, several years of successful recruitment followed by a period when recruitment was low or absent might explain size structure observed in a single unusually large sample from the Rockall Trough. This is consistent with previous observations during the late 1990s of a large population increase on the Porcupine Abyssal Plain. Analysis of growth bands of these specimens sampled in 1997 suggest the population increase derives from a single or small number of year classes recruited during the early 1990s.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0967-0637 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: Ophiuroidea; Population dynamics; Growth comparison; Reproduction; Recruitment; Benthic environment; NE Atlantic; Rockall Trough; Porcupine Seabight; Porcupine Abyssal Plain
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Ocean & Earth Science (SOC/SOES)
ePrint ID: 9728
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2004
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:01
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/9728

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