Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 4, pp 919–927 | Cite as

Tisular and population level responses to habitat harshness in sandy beaches: the reproductive strategy of Donax hanleyanus

  • Estela Delgado
  • Omar DefeoEmail author
Research Article


Microscopic analysis and field sampling procedures were used to compare demographic and reproductive strategies of the intertidal wedge clam Donax hanleyanus (Bivalvia: Donacidae) in two exposed sandy beaches with contrasting morphodynamics (reflective vs. dissipative) during 13 consecutive months. Histological analysis showed that: (1) the reproductive cycle of D. hanleyanus was more extended in the dissipative beach, and this was true for all the three pre-active (beginning of gonadal activity), active (maturation) and spawning stages; and (2) males and females showed significantly smaller sizes at sexual maturity at the reflective beach. Even though successive increments in proportion and mature at size were observed, the sigmoid function was significantly steeper at the reflective Arachania for both sexes, suggesting an abrupt transition to maturity. Field sampling revealed a more extended recruitment period at the dissipative beach, where recruits were also significantly more abundant than at the reflective beach. These results give support for the habitat harshness hypothesis, which predicts that in intertidal species capable of sustaining populations across a wide spectrum of physical conditions, such as D. hanleyanus, abundance, recruitment, size at maturity and extent of reproductive and recruitment seasons increase from reflective to dissipative beaches. However, a recent hypothesis suggests that reflective beaches acting as sink populations were not sustained, because mature and spawning individuals of both sexes were found in the reflective beach throughout the study period. Thus, we suggest that post-settlement processes are critical in modulating population patterns for this bivalve.


Beach Reproductive Strategy Sandy Beach Gonadal Maturity Gamete Release 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper is part of the PhD thesis of Estela Delgado. We wish to express our gratitude to the “Benthic Ecology Group” of UNDECIMAR for field assistance and in particular, to S. Horta for collaboration with gonad dissection. Facultad de Veterinaria, Instituto de Investigaciones Pesqueras and Área Acuicultura are acknowledged for providing facilities (Histology Laboratory). Financial support from CSIC, PDT (Project S/C/OP/07/49) and PEDECIBA is acknowledged. ED thanks Alvar and Marina Carranza for invaluable support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UndecimarMontevideoUruguay

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