Long-term demographic and reproductive trends in Ciona intestinalis sp. A

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Abstract

Ciona intestinalis sp. A (Tunicata, Ascidiacea) is a marine invertebrate with a widespread distribution and high invasive potential, yet little is known about its ecology. Here, the macrodynamics of demographic and reproductive trends were first determined using archive data covering 2002–2012. Species abundance in the central Tyrrhenian Sea (Campania, Italy - NW Mediterranean) displayed Poisson distribution across 2002–2008, massive die-off in 2009/2010 and population recovery in 2011/2012. We defined the seasonal ranges of sea surface temperature in which sampling size, animal size and reproductive status reached their highest values. In 2003/2004, self and non-self fertilization appeared to follow reverse trends across the year. The long-term recording run here on Ciona intestinalis sp. A provides novel insights into its population biology and ecology, and represents a valuable tool for sampling management and research planning.

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