Life cycle of Marphysa sanguinea (Polychaeta: Eunicidae) in the Venice Lagoon (Italy)


Daniela Prevedelli, Dipartimento di Biologia Animale, Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 213/D, 41100 Modena, Italy.


The life cycle of a brackish water population of Marphysa sanguinea (Polychaeta Eunicidae), from the Venice Lagoon (Italy), was investigated from April 1993 to August 1994. Marphysa sanguinea is a large-sized gonochoric species with annual iteroparous strategy and synchronous spawning at population level. The sex-ratio was close to 1:1. There were no morphological differences between males and females and spawning occurred without epitokal metamorphosis. The gonadial activity was maximum during summer period in both sexes. From May to September in the females, the greater number of immature oocytes could be observed; starting from November immature oocytes decreased and progressively those with a wider diameter increased in number. Spawning took place in April–May and generally not all eggs were spawned, a small proportion being kept as a reserve material for the following gamete production. The pelagic phase (trochophore and metatrochophore stages) was short (2–3 days). The reduction in the dispersal phase, together with the development of a strong anterior musculature, brought to an early acquisition of the benthic habit, which was attained with the construction of the mucous tube inside of which the larva lived. The results highlighted that colonization of brackish environments took place thanks to morphological and physiological features that allow this species to live in a sediment layer characterized by the stability of the physical and chemical characteristics of the substratum.