Enormous variation exists in the reproductive output of marine invertebrates (e.g., in the numbers of em¬bryos produced, the volumes of embryos, and the energy that they contain). It is not clear why there is such great variability or what the population-level consequences are. We sampled a population of the brooding seastar Leptasterias aequalis (Stimpson, 1862) to collect basic information on brood sizes, embryo volume, and embryo energy content with a goal to better understand the reproductive ecology of this species. We collected brooding females in February and again in April. We measured the size of their broods and sampled the broods to estimate volume and energy con¬tent of the embryos. There was great variability in the volume and energy content of embryos produced by individual females and among the embryos in a single female's brood. Larger adults produced larger embryos, which generally had greater energy content and may be of a higher quality. The average energy content of embryos appeared to in¬crease during the brooding period. Larger females produced larger broods but lost a greater proportion of the embryos. The net result is that larger individuals may not produce any more juveniles than smaller individuals, but those that they do produce may be of a higher quality.

Originally published in Canadian Journal of Zoologyand used with permission.


Biology | Physiology