Reproduction in the genus Limacina (Opisthobranchia: Thecosomata)

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Abstract

Reproductive mechanisms in the seven species of the thecosomatous pteropod genus Limacina are described and compared. All species are protandrous hermaphrodites. Five species–L. bulimoides, L. helicina, L. lesueuri, L. retroversa and L. trochiformis–have a similar reproductive anatomy in which the gonoduct leading from the gonad to the common genital pore functions as a seminal vesicle in the male and is elaborated into mucous and albumen glands in the female. The male system consists of a prostate gland and penis connected to the common genital pore by an external ciliary tract. All five species have a free-swimming veliger stage which hatches from free-floating egg masses. Limacina helicoides has the same reproductive anatomy but is ovoviviparous, with embryos retained in capsules in the mucous gland until they are juveniles of 50 mm in shell diameter. Limacina inflata lacks mucous and albumen glands and a penis; a spermatophore formed by the prostate gland is used in aphallic sperm transfer. This species exhibits brood protection with un-encapsulated embryos retained in the mantle cavity until they are released as veligers measuring 0067 mm in diameter. L. inflata is the most abundant of the seven species despite lowered fecundity; reasons for its ecological success are discussed.

Ancillary