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Keywords:

  • Autoecology;
  • Branchiomma ;
  • Gulf of Taranto;
  • invasive species;
  • mediterranean Sea;
  • sabellidae

Abstract

The population dynamics and gametogenesis of the non-indigenous polychaete species Branchiomma luctuosum Grube, 1869 (Annelida, Sabellidae) has been investigated at three sites in the Taranto Seas (Ionian Sea, Mediterranean Sea). The species, probably introduced from the Red Sea, has been reported in the Mediterranean Sea since 1983. The species is hermaphrodite, and the reproductive season is between June and October when the largest mean size of oocytes was recorded together with the presence of mature spermatozoa. Small oocytes are present in specimens reaching about 20–25 mm in length. Therefore oogenesis seems to begin early during the first year of life, but the first reproduction can occur when the worms attain a larger size and are at least 6 months of age. Although most of the individuals reproduce seasonally within a discrete period, some individuals can reproduce in different periods during the year, the oogenesis of individuals not being synchronous. A life span of at least 2 years is highlighted, with a faster growth rate during the first months (about 20 mm per month) decreasing to about 10 mm from the 3rd to the 8th months and slowing down again after the worm reaches 100 mm in size. Some differences in growth performance are discussed, enhanced by comparing the sites located at greater depth (5–7 m) and those located at 0.5 m depth, together with the possible interactions of this alien species with the autochthonous sabellid Sabella spallanzanii.