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The influence of encapsulated embryos on the timing of hatching in the brooding gastropod Crepipatella dilatata

Andrade-Villagrán, P.V., Baria, K.S., Montory, J.A., Pechenik, J.A., Chaparro, O.R.
Journal of sea research 2018 v.131 pp. 69-78
Gastropoda, biomass, egg masses, eggs, encapsulation, hatching, juveniles, larvae, progeny
Encapsulated embryos are generally thought to play an active role in escaping from egg capsules or egg masses. However, for species that brood their egg capsules, the factors controlling the timing of hatching are largely unclear, particularly the degree to which hatching is controlled by the embryos rather than by the mother, and the degree to which the hatching of one egg capsule influences the hatching of sister egg capsules within the same egg mass. We studied aspects of hatching using the direct-developing gastropod Crepipatella dilatata, which includes nurse eggs in its egg capsules and broods clusters of egg capsules for at least several weeks before metamorphosed juveniles are released. Isolated egg capsules were able to hatch successfully, in the absence of the mother. Moreover, the hatching of one capsule did not cause adjacent sister capsules to hatch. Hatched and un-hatched sister egg capsules from the same egg mass differed significantly in the number of metamorphosed juveniles, average shell size, offspring biomass (juveniles+veliger larvae), and the number of nurse eggs remaining per egg capsule. Differences in when egg capsules hatched within a single egg mass were not explained by differences in egg capsule age. Hatching occurred only after most nurse eggs had been ingested, most offspring had metamorphosed into juveniles, and juveniles had reached a mean shell length>1.36mm. Whether the mother has any role to play in coordinating the hatching process or juvenile release remains to be determined.