Broadcast spawning invertebrates that live in shallow, high-energy coastal habitats are subjected to oscillatory water motion that creates unsteady flow fields above the surface of animals. The frequency of the oscillatory fluctuations is driven by the wave period, which will influence the stability of local flow structures and may affect fertilization processes. Using an oscillatory water tunnel, we quantified the percentage of eggs fertilized on or near spawning green sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. Eggs were sampled in the water column, wake eddy, substratum and aboral surface under a range of different periods (T = 4.5 – 12.7 s) and velocities of oscillatory flow. The root-mean-square wave velocity (rms(uw)) was a good predictor of fertilization in oscillatory flow, although the root-mean-square of total velocity (rms(u)), which incorporates all the components of flow (current, wave and turbulence), also provided significant predictions. The percentage of eggs fertilized varied between 50 – 85% at low flows (rms(uw) < 0.02 m s-1), depending on the location sampled, but declined to below 10% for most locations at higher rms(uw). The water column was an important location for fertilization with a relative contribution greater than that of the aboral surface, especially at medium and high rms(uw) categories. We conclude that gametes can be successfully fertilized on or near the parent under a range of oscillatory flow conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)