Gonad index and larval development of the sand dollar Dendraster excentricus (Echinodermata; Echinoidea) in Baja California, Mexico

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T Olivares-Bañuelos
S Figueroa-Flores
E Carpizo-Ituarte


The sand dollar Dendraster excentricus has been extensively used in diverse studies in Baja California (Mexico). This study shows annual variations in the gonad index and describes larval development under laboratory conditions of D. excentricus. Over a period of one year, adult sand dollars (6.73 ± 0.56 cm diameter and 23.22 ± 6.90 g) were collected monthly. Both the monthly analysis of the gonad index (male and female) and the measure of mature eggs were considered to estimate the reproductive period of the sand dollar in Punta Banda Estuary (Baja California). Our results suggest that D. excentricus has two maximum reproductive peaks, one during the early spring and another during the summer, although viable gametes were obtained in the laboratory year round. Larval development took 21–23 days from fertilization to metamorphosis under laboratory conditions (19 ± 2 ºC, salinity 33.5). The blastula stage was observed 5 h postfertilization, while four-armed echinopluteus larvae, with an average size of 387.00 ± 23.25 ?m (from aboral to dorsal arms), were observed two days after fertilization. A different larval stage was attained approximately every two days. Eight-armed echinopluteus larvae were 744.60 ± 69.45 µm in size. The completely developed juvenile rudiment was detected 18 days after fertilization and metamorphosed larvae were observed 72 h after induction. These results, while not new for the species, show the reproductive behavior and larval period for the D. excentricus populations associated with an estuary at the southern limit of its distribution, and will be useful to document variation in the response of species of ample geographic distribution in global change scenarios.


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Olivares-Bañuelos, T., Figueroa-Flores, S., & Carpizo-Ituarte, E. (2012). Gonad index and larval development of the sand dollar Dendraster excentricus (Echinodermata; Echinoidea) in Baja California, Mexico. Ciencias Marinas, 38(2), 411–425. https://doi.org/10.7773/cm.v38i2.1922
Research Article