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Predator-Induced Larval Cloning in the Sand Dollar Dendraster excentricus: Might Mothers Matter?

Dawn Vaughn
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 217, No. 2 (Oct., 2009), pp. 103-114
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40284699
Page Count: 12
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Predator-Induced Larval Cloning in the Sand Dollar Dendraster excentricus: Might Mothers Matter?
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Abstract

Predator-induced cloning in echinoid larvae, with reduced size a consequence of cloning, is a dramatic modification of development and a novel response to risks associated with prolonged planktonic development. Recent laboratory studies demonstrate that exposure to stimuli from predators (i. e., fish mucus) induces cloning in the pluteus larvae (plutei) of Dendraster excentricus. However, the timing and incidence of cloning and size reduction of unrelated conspecific plutei differed across experiments. A variable cloning response suggests the effects of such factors as cue quality, egg provisioning, maternal experience, and genetic background, indicating that the potential advantages of cloning as an adaptive response to predators are not available to all larvae. This study tested the hypothesis that cloning in D. excentricus plutei is maternally influenced. Plutei from three half-sibling larval families (different mothers, same father) were exposed to fish mucus for 9 days during early development. Cloning was inferred in a percentage of plutei from each family; however, the rate and success of cloning differed significantly among the larval half-siblings. Unexpectedly, all mucus-treated plutei were smaller and developmentally delayed when compared to all plutei reared in the absence of a mucus stimulus. Thus, while the results from this study support the hypothesis of an influence of mothers on cloning of larval offspring, reduced larval size was a uniform response to fish mucus and did not indicate an effect of mothers. Hypotheses of the developmental effects of fish mucus on larval size with or without successful cloning are discussed.

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