Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 11, pp 2603–2615 | Cite as

Effects of seasonality on the reproductive cycle of Diadema aff. antillarum in two contrasting habitats: implications for the establishment of a sea urchin fishery

  • J. C. HernándezEmail author
  • S. Clemente
  • A. Brito
Original Paper


Reproduction of Diadema aff. antillarum was examined between 2002 and 2005 at subtidal rocky bottoms around the Canary Islands. Two contrasting habitats (urchin barrens and grazing fronts) characterized by different levels of food availability were chosen, and factors thought to influence reproductive periodicity were monitored, including temperature, photoperiod, phytoplankton abundance and benthic food availability. Histological analyses showed that D. aff. antillarum had an annual reproductive cycle that was relatively synchronous across the studied sites and habitats. Photoperiod was the most significant factor that correlated with gonad periodicity; benthic food availability of 2 month lag was also correlated. However, some differences were detected between males and females in the timing of the onset of gametogenesis. Spawning was synchronized between both sexes from June to August. Results suggest that the optimum time of year to harvest urchin gonads would be between May and June when gonads were maximal in size but not full of gametes. This species may not provide optimal conditions for an industrial scale fishery, as sea urchins occurring in high density had small gonads and those producing larger volume or more marketable gonad tissue occurred in low densities where harvesting costs would exceed profit.


Canary Island Barren Ground Phytoplankton Abundance Gonad Index Lunar Cycle 
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.



We are indebted to the ‘Dpto. Citología e Histología’ at the ‘Universidad de La Laguna’ (Tenerife, Canary Islands) for providing us access to their laboratory facilities to perform histological studies, to D. Girard for her help during field collections and to A. Pérez-Ruzafa who improved the multivariate statistical analysis. Three anonymous reviewers and the editor greatly improved previous versions of the manuscript. This research was carried out within the framework of the project ‘ACIDROCK’ CTM2010_21724 (subprogram MAR) of the Spanish ‘Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación’. S.C. was funded by the project “Proyecto Estructurante en Ciencias Marinas” from “Agencia Canaria de Investigación, Innovación y Sociedad de la Información”.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biodiversidad, Ecología Marina y Conservación, Departamento de Biología Animal (Ciencias Marinas), Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad de La LagunaLa Laguna, TenerifeSpain

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