The reproductive cycle of the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) in southern Brazil.
Lytechinus variegatus (Lamarck) is a common echinoid found on the Atlantic coast of America from North Carolina to southern Brazil and their populations inhabit sub littoral shallow-water environments. This research examined some aspects of reproduction in the southern limit of distribution of the species. A total of 86 adult individuals of L. variegatus (50.8 to 77.0 mm test diameter) were manually collected from September 2000 to September 2001 along the unconsolidated bottoms at the eurihaline sector of Paranaguá Bay (48° 19’ W - 25° 35’ S) for histological characterization of gametogenesis, sex ratio and gonadal index (GI) evaluation. This population showed a synchronicity in maturation and spawning events (autumn and winter respectively), with a 1:1 sex ratio (χ2 = 2.57, df = 7, p < 0.05). The GI increase was associated with storage of nutritional resources periods (resting stages and proliferation) that occurred between late winter and spring. Biometric analyzes indicated a greater investment in size and/or quantity of gametes between late spring and summer, when it was possible to observe mature sperm occupying on average 63.9 % of the follicular lumen and oocytes reaching values of 70.0 to 75.0 μm. Mature oocyte mean size is the highest diameter of those developed by other regular echinoids in the same latitude. However, the average diameter of mature oocytes of L. variegatus in the southern limit of its distribution was lower than the values recorded for the northern hemisphere.