Marine Biology

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 167–176 | Cite as

Reproduction, growth and mortality of the holothurian Cucumaria pseudocurata

  • J. C. Rutherford


Certain phases of the ecology of a sea cucumber (Cucumaria pseudocurata Deichmann, 1938) population at Shell Beach, Sonoma County, California (USA), were investigated. The sea cucumber is a brooder, lays large (1 mm diameter) yolky eggs, which undergo direct development. It forms large aggregations in the rocky intertidal zone, extending from the lower boundary of the Mytilus californianus beds to about zero tide-level. The gonad cycle was followed from September, 1970 to January, 1972. Spawning occurred in January, 1971 and January, 1972. The holothurians produce from 1 to as many as 340 eggs, depending on the size of the individual; they completely spawn-out in a few days. Hatching takes place about 1 month after egg laying. The main sources of mortality are predation by the sea star Pycnopodia helianthoides and wave action. Survival of the young is negatively correlated with density of the aggregation. C. pseudocurata increases in weight 10 to 30 fold in the first year, but much more slowly in later years. Individuals live perhaps 5 years or more, and do not become reproductive until about the third year. Dispersal is accomplished by the young being washed away to a suitable new habitat. The upper range of the intertidal distribution is determined by exposure to air, and the lower range by P. helianthoides predation.


Beach Lower Boundary Wave Action Lower Range Intertidal Zone 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. C. Rutherford
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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