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> Marine Life Cycles


Integrating Function over Marine Life Cycles

Organized by Bob Podolsky (College of Charleston) and Amy Moran (Clemson University)

Images courtesy of (1) Richard Emlet, (2) Chris McDermott, (3) Richard Emlet, (4) Carol Thornber, (5) Dean Wendt.  Please do not use without permission.



Symposium overview

Life cycles are composed of stages that can vary dramatically in size, form, habitat, and functional attributes.  Such complex life cycles, and the series of functional and ecological challenges they encompass, characterize most multicellular organisms (Werner, 1988). Marine biphasic life cycles provide particularly diverse examples of selection operating at different life-history stages. For example, marine taxa commonly face challenges to fertilization of free-spawned gametes, to nutrient acquisition during pelagic larval development, to benthic site selection and juvenile survival, and to adult reproductive location and timing. Within life-cycle functional variation is fundamental to understanding ecological and evolutionary processes at the organismal and population levels, given that the nature and force of selection pressures can change more dramatically within life cycles than among adults of different species.

Metamorphosis has traditionally been viewed as a means of decoupling functional challenges during different parts of a life cycle. Recent evidence from the marine literature, however, indicates that consequences of variation in performance at one life-history stage can “carry over” into significant effects on later stages. For example, characteristics of eggs that influence fertilization success can also influence the distribution of larval traits (Marshall et al. 2002, Marshall and Keough 2003); embryonic experience can influence larval and juvenile performance (Moran and Emlet 2001, Giménez and Anger 2003); planktonic larval experience can influence benthic juvenile success (Qian and Pechenik 1998, Pechenik and Rice 2001, Phillips 2002, Giménez et al. 2004); and adult reproductive timing or location can alter developmental conditions for offspring (Li and Brawley 2004, Brawley et al. 1999, Podolsky 2003). These examples illustrate how life cycle stages can be functionally coupled, such that life cycle evolution is a more highly integrated response to selection than can be deduced from the study of individual stages. Nevertheless, traditional models of life history evolution (e.g., Vance 1973, Christiansen and Fenchel 1979) and their derivatives have tended to treat stages in isolation.

In marine organisms, much of what is known about performance at early stages and functional links among stages comes from studies in the laboratory, where small individuals can be cultured in large numbers under controlled conditions.  Relatively little is understood about performance capacities or selection on functional traits for these stages under natural conditions (Young 1990), and relating laboratory results to field conditions has been problematic. Unlike terrestrial organisms, marine organisms have early stages that are often microscopic and widely dispersing, hence impractical for in situ tests of performance. A handful of studies have successfully examined gamete, larval, or juvenile performance in the context of field conditions (e.g., Bingham and Young 1991, Meidel and Yund 2001, Moran and Emlet 2001, Franke et al. 2002, Phillips 2002), but such examples are vastly outnumbered by laboratory studies.

In this symposium, we aim to draw together and synthesize recent and ongoing research on organismal performance at different life-history stages--gametes, embryos, larvae, juveniles, and adults--that emphasizes functional connections among stages. Our goal is to highlight research that has been innovative in both (1) surmounting the challenges of translating laboratory measures of performance into a field context and (2) emphasizing how functional processes at one life-history stage alter the conditions for performance and selection at others.  For this reason, the participants will cover a wide range of organisms (fish, invertebrates, algae), life-history stages, and research questions while offering a number of international perspectives.

We thank SICB, the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, the Division of Ecology and Evolution, and the American Microscopical Society, for their sponsorship and generous support.

Go here to see the press release for this symposium.


Participants and topics

Bob Podolsky (College of Charleston) and Amy Moran (Clemson University): Functional links between life-cycle stages: carryover or compensation?

Phil Yund and Sheri Johnson (University of New England): Multiple paternity and subsequent fusion/rejection interactions in a colonial ascidian

Gareth Pearson (Universidade do Algarve, PT): Revisiting synchronous spawning in seaweeds—is it just about sex?

Nicole Phillips and Jeff Shima (Victoria University of Wellington, NZ): Causes and consequences of variability in larval quality in mussels and reef fish

Carol Thornber (University of Rhode Island): Functional properties of algal life cycles

Luis Giménez (Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, DE): Functional links among life phases and the consequences for individual performance in decapod crustaceans

Richard Emlet (University of Oregon): Functional and ecological limits on size at metamorphosis of marine invertebrates

Su Sponaugle (University of Miami): Influence of early life history traits on recruitment success and early survival in a coral reef fish

Dean Wendt (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo): Availability of dissolved organic matter (DOM) reduces carryover performance consequences for the marine bryozoan Bugula neritina

Dustin Marshall (University of Queensland, AU): Transgenerational offspring size effects in marine invertebrates



The symposium will be held during morning and afternoon sessions on Friday, January 6th, 2006 (talk order to be determined).  In addition to organizing the symposium sessions, we encourage participation in contributed paper and poster sessions that will be complementary to and held after the symposium.  If you have already submitted an abstract but did not indicate your preference to be part of these complementary sessions, please contact SICB as soon as possible.  If you plan to participate in a complementary session, please send a copy of your title and abstract to the symposium co-organizer, Bob Podolsky.


Selected references

Allen, J.D., Zakas, C. and R.D. Podolsky.  In press.  Effects of egg size reduction and larval feeding on juvenile performance in a sea urchin with facultative-feeding development.  Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.

Bingham, B. L., and C. M. Young. 1991. Larval behavior of the ascidian Ecteinascidia turbinata (Herdman): an in-situ experimental study of the effects of swimming on dispersal. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 145:189-204.

Brawley, S. H., L. E. Johnson, G. A. Pearson, V. Speransky, R. Li, and E. Serrao. 1999. Gamete release at low tide in fucoid algae: Maladaptive or advantageous? American Zoologist 39:218-229.

Christiansen, F. B., and T. M. Fenchel. 979. Evolution of marine invertebrate reproductive patterns. Theoretical Population Biology 16:267-282.

Franke, E. S., R. C. Babcock, and C. A. Styan. 2002. Sexual conflict and polyspermy under sperm-limited conditions: In situ evidence from field simulations with the free-spawning marine echinoid Evechinus chloroticus. American Naturalist 160:485-496.

Giménez, L. 2002. Effects of prehatching salinity and initial larval biomass on survival and duration of development in the zoea 1 of the estuarine crab, Chasmagnathus granulata, under nutritional stress.  Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 270(1): 93-110.

Giménez, L. 2004. Marine community ecology: importance of trait-mediated effects propagating through complex life cycles.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 283: 303-310.

Giménez, L., and K. Anger. 2003. Larval performance in an estuarine crab, Chasmagnathus granulata, is a consequence of both larval and embryonic experience. Marine Ecology Progress Series 249:251-264.

Giménez, L., K. Anger, and G. Torres. 2004. Linking life history traits in successive phases of a complex life cycle: Effects of larval biomass on early juvenile development in an estuarine crab, Chasmagnathus granulata. Oikos 104:570-580.

Hentschel, B. T. and R. B. Emlet 2000. Metamorphosis of barnacle nauplii: Effects of food variability and a comparison with amphibian models. Ecology (Washington D C) 81(12): 3495-3508.

Li, R. and S. H. Brawley 2004. Improved survival under heat stress in intertidal embryos (Fucus spp.) simultaneously exposed to hypersalinity and the effect of parental thermal history. Marine Biology 144: 205-213.

Marshall, D. J., C. A. Styan, et al. 2000. Intraspecific co-variation between egg and body size affects fertilisation kinetics of free-spawning marine invertebrates. Marine Ecology Progress Series 195: 305-309.

Marshall, D. J., and M. J. Keough. 2003. Sources of variation in larval quality for free-spawning marine invertebrates: Egg size and the local sperm environment. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development 44:63-70.

Marshall, D. J., C. A. Styan, and M. J. Keough. 2002. Sperm environment affects offspring quality in broadcast spawning marine invertebrates. Ecology Letters 5:173-176.

Meidel, S. K., and P. O. Yund. 2001. Egg longevity and time-integrated fertilization in a temperate sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis). Biological Bulletin 201:84-94.

Moran, A. L., and R. B. Emlet. 2001. Offspring size and performance in variable environments: Field studies on a marine snail. Ecology (Washington D C) 82:1597-1612.

Pechenik, J. A., T. Gleason, et al. 2001. Influence of larval exposure to salinity and cadmium stress on juvenile performance of two marine invertebrates (Capitella sp. I and Crepidula fornicata). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 264(1): 101-114.

Pechenik, J. A., and M. E. Rice. 2001. Influence of delayed metamorphosis on postsettlement survival and growth in the sipunculan Apionsoma misakianum. Invertebrate Biology 120:50-57.

Phillips, N. E. 2002. Effects of nutrition-mediated larval condition on juvenile performance in a marine mussel. Ecology (Washington D C) 83:2562-2574.

Phillips, N. E., and S. D. Gaines. 2002. Spatial and temporal variability in size at settlement of intertidal mytilid mussels from around Pt. Conception, California. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development 41:171-177.

Podolsky, R. D. 2003. Integrating development and environment to model reproductive performance in natural populations of an intertidal gastropod. Integrative and Comparative Biology 43:450-458.

Qian, P.-Y., and J. A. Pechenik. 1998. Effects of larval starvation and delayed metamorphosis on juvenile survival and growth of the tube-dwelling polychaete Hydroides elegans (Haswell). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 227:169-185.

Searcy, S. P., and S. Sponaugle. 2001. Selective mortality during the larval-juvenile transition in two coral reef fishes. Ecology (Washington D C) 82:2452-2470.

Sponaugle, S., and D. R. Pinkard. 2004. Impact of variable pelagic environments on natural larval growth and recruitment of the reef fish Thalassoma bifasciatum. Journal of Fish Biology 64:34-54.

Strathmann, R. R. 1990. Why life histories evolve differently in the sea. American Zoologist 30:197-207.

Thornber, C. S., and S. D. Gaines. 2003. Spatial and temporal variation of haploids and diploids in populations of four congeners of the marine alga Mazzaella. Marine Ecology Progress Series 258:65-77.

Thornber, C. S., and S. D. Gaines. 2004. Population demographics in species with biphasic life cycles. Ecology (Washington D C) 85:1661-1674.

Vance, R. R. 1973. On reproductive strategies in marine benthic invertebrates. American Naturalist 107:339-352.

Werner, E. E. 1988. Size, scaling, and the evolution of complex life cycles. Pages 60-81 in B. Ebenman and L. Persson, editors. Size-structured populations. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Wilbur, H. M. 1980. Complex Life Cycles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 11:67-94.

Yund, P. O. 2000. How severe is sperm limitation in natural populations of marine free-spawners? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15:10-13.

Yund, P. O., and S. K. Meidel. 2003. Sea urchin spawning in benthic boundary layers: Are eggs fertilized before advecting away from females? Limnology and Oceanography 48:795-801.