, Volume 815, Issue 1, pp 187–205 | Cite as

Is the Orton’s rule still valid? Tropical sponge fecundity, rather than periodicity, is modulated by temperature and other proximal cues

  • Emilio Lanna
  • Bruno Cajado
  • Carine Santos-da-Silva
  • Jéssica da Hora
  • Ubaldo Porto
  • Vivian Vasconcellos
Primary Research Paper


Although the Orton’s rule was already questioned for several invertebrate lineages, it remains unchallenged in sponges. To assess its validity in Porifera, we investigated the reproductive cycle of five species of Demospongiae on a tropical rocky shore, aiming to determine the effect of some environmental variables (EVs) on the periodicity, density of reproductive elements, and population engagement in reproduction. All species reproduced continuously, with low percentage of reproductive individuals and low fecundity. Each species presented a set of models containing different EVs to explain their reproductive traits. In general, the relationship of the EVs on the percentage of reproductive individuals and density of gametes and embryos was delayed in 1–3 months. Temperature was amongst the factors that best explained the species reproduction, with a delay of 1 month being the factor most consistently found amongst the models. In addition, we carried out a meta-analysis and discovered that in temperate regions most species reproduced periodically, whilst in the tropics, a small percentage reproduced continuously. Our findings suggest that Orton’s Rule is partially sustained, as species reproduced continuously, but challenge the lack of the influence of the temperature and other EVs in the reproduction of tropical marine invertebrates.


Gametes Embryos Porifera Temperature Multi-model selection Phenology Western Tropical Atlantic 



We are grateful to all the students in our lab (LEBR) that helped in collecting the sponges during the study. We thank Andre L. Cruz a researcher of the National Institute of Science and Technology in Comparative Physiology (INCT—Fisiologia Comparada) who enabled the use of equipment from the Laboratory of Animal Physiology (LAFISA/UFBA) and Guilherme Lessa for providing data on seawater temperature. We also thank Jaaziel E. Garcia Hernandez (University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez) for reviewing the English style and grammar of the manuscript. BC, CSS, JH, and UP received fellowships of the Programa de Bolsas de Iniciação Científica (PIBIC) of UFBA. VV was benefited by a PhD scholarship from CAPES. Research in our lab is financially supported by the Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq: 477227/2013-9), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado da Bahia (FAPESB: JCB0014/2016) and PROPCI/PRODOC-UFBA. Our lab is part of the National Institute of Science and Technology in Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Studies in Ecology and Evolution (INCT IN-TREE).

Supplementary material

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade Federal da BahiaSalvadorBrazil

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