Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 1, pp 181–192 | Cite as

Reproductive traits of pioneer gastropod species colonizing deep-sea hydrothermal vents after an eruption

  • S. R. BayerEmail author
  • L. S. Mullineaux
  • R. G. Waller
  • A. R. Solow
Original Paper


The colonization dynamics and life histories of pioneer species determine early succession at nascent hydrothermal vents, and their reproductive ecology may provide insight into their dispersal and population connectivity. Studies on the reproductive traits of two pioneer gastropod species, Ctenopelta porifera and Lepetodrilus tevnianus, began within a year after an eruption on the East Pacific Rise (EPR) that eliminated vent communities near 9°50′N from late 2005/early 2006. Standard histology was used to examine gamete release, instantaneous female fecundity, and time to maturation. Both species exhibited two-component oocyte size–frequency distributions indicating quasi-continuous reproduction with high fecundity. In samples collected in December 2006, both C. porifera and L. tevnianus individuals were reproductively mature. The smallest reproducing C. porifera were 4.2 mm (males) and 5.4 mm (females) in shell length, whereas reproductive L. tevnianus were smaller (2.3 and 2.4 mm in males and females, respectively). Most C. porifera were large (>6.0 mm) compared to their size at metamorphosis and reproductively mature. In contrast, most L. tevnianus were small (<1.0 mm) and immature. Reproductive traits of the two species are consistent with opportunistic colonization, but are also similar to those of other Lepetodrilus species and peltospirids at vents and do not fully explain why these particular species were the dominant pioneers. Their larvae were probably in high supply immediately after the eruption, due to oceanographic transport processes from remote source populations.


Shell Length Digestive Gland Colonization Surface Reproductive Trait Hydrothermal Vent 
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 thank the captain and crew of the RV Atlantis and the members of the Alvin group aboard cruises AT15-14 and AT15-26. We are grateful to Andreas Thurnherr, Susan Mills, Stace Beaulieu, Carly Strasser, Benjamin Walther, and Nika Staglicic for assistance at sea and collection of samples. Paula Weston and Michele Gardner of the Brown University Molecular Pathology Core Lab contributed greatly to the histological processing of samples. This work was supported by National Science Foundation grant OCE-0424953 to Mullineaux and by funds provided through the WHOI Summer Student Fellowship program and the Brown University Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department to Bayer. We gratefully acknowledge comments from three anonymous reviewers who aided in improving this manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 100 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 167 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (PDF 6814 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. R. Bayer
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. S. Mullineaux
    • 1
  • R. G. Waller
    • 2
  • A. R. Solow
    • 3
  1. 1.MS 34, Biology DepartmentWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and TechnologyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.Marine Policy CenterWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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