Revista de Biología Tropical ISSN Impreso: 0034-7744 ISSN electrónico: 2215-2075

Reproductive biology and energetics of the brooding sea star Anasterias antarctica (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) in the Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina


brooding sea star
pyloric caeca
reserve organ

How to Cite

Pérez, A. F., Fraysse, C., Boy, C. C., Epherra, L., & Javier, C. (2017). Reproductive biology and energetics of the brooding sea star Anasterias antarctica (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) in the Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Revista De Biología Tropical, 65(S1), S221-S232.


The brooding sea star Anasterias antarctica is distributed from the coast of Patagonia to the northern Peninsula of Antarctica. In the Beagle Channel, the females of A. antarctica brood their eggs for seven months and do not feed during this period. The endoparasite Dendrogaster argentinensis (Crustacea: Ascothoracica) causes castration in several species of Anasterias. We randomly collected four samplings of adults in May, August and October (brooding period) and January (non-brooding period). The gonad (GI) and pyloric caeca index (PCI) were calculated as organ wet weight (g) x 100/total wet weight (g). Each individual was sexed by microscopic examination of the gonads. Sex ratio, brooding females/non-brooding females and mature females/non-mature females ratios was 1:1. The male GI reached maximum values in January, when most individuals were sexually mature. The GI of non-brooding females reached its maximum during October when it was significantly higher than those from brooding females. The PCI was minimum in October, being lower in brooding females (August and October). During the non-brooding period, mature females had a significantly higher GI than non-mature females. The PCI did not vary neither between males, nor between mature and non mature females. By the end of the brooding period, non-brooding females showed a higher GI than the brooding females. This is explained by proliferation and increase of the oocytes size of non-brooding females. Mature females showed an incremented GI with presence of mature oocytes, while non-mature females exhibited more abundance of previtelogenic oocytes. Males showed synchronicity in reproductive condition. The females that have not brooded presented a process of active gametogenesis, reaching the summer with a high GI, therefore becoming mature females. Females that had brooded were probably lacking energy for new gonadal maturation. The pyloric caeca would be performing the role of a reserve organ in the brooding females, decreasing its size during the brooding period. Prevalence of D. argentinensis in A. antarctica was 11.06%. As this parasite was recorded in sea stars lacking gonads, these infected hosts could have been castrated. Rev. Biol. Trop. 65(Suppl. 1): S221-S232. Epub 2017 November 01.


Barker, M. F., & Xu, R. A. (1991). Seasonal changes in biochemical composition of body walls, gonads and pyloric caeca in two populations of Sclerasterias mollis (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) during the annual reproductive cycle. Marine Biology, 109, 27-34.

Bernasconi, I. (1964). Distribución geográfica de los Equinoideos y Asteroideos de la extremidad austral de Sudamérica. Boletín del Instituto de Biología Marina, 7, 43-50.

Blankley, W. O., & Branch, G. M. (1984). Co-operative prey capture and unusual brooding habits of Anasterias rupicola (Verrill) (Asteroidea) at sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Marine Ecology Progress Serie, 20, 171-176.

Bosch, I., & Slattery, M. (1999). Costs of extended brood protection in the Antarctic sea star, Neosmilaster georgianus (Echinodermata: Asteroidea). Marine Biology, 134, 449-459.

Brockington, S., Clarke, A., & Chapman, A. G. (2001). Seasonality of feeding and nutritional status during the austral winter in the Antarctic sea urchin Sterechinus neumayeri. Marine Biology, 139, 127-138.

Bush, A. O., Lafferty, K. D., Lotz, J. M., & Shostak, A. W. (1997). Parasitology meets ecology on its own terms: Margolis et al. Revisited. Journal of Parasitology, 575-583.

Cerda, R. C., Flores, M. L., Zaixso, H. E., & Córdoba, O. L. (2016). Analysis of carbohydrates in breeding females of the sea star Anasterias minuta Perrier 1875. Metabolic interrelations between different organs and the brooding process. Journal of Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 1-6.

Clark, A., & Downey, M. (1992). Starfish of the Atlantic. An Illustrated Key. Cambridge: Koeltz Scientific Books.

Cossi, P. F., Boy, C., Giménez, J., & Pérez, A. (2015). Reproductive biology and energy allocation of the sea star Cosmasterias lurida (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) from the Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Polar Biology. doi: 10.1007/s00300-015-1696-x

Curelovich, J. N. (2012). Mecanismos reguladores de la estructura y dinámica de la comunidad intermareal rocosa de Ensenada Zaratiegui, Tierra del Fuego. (Tesis Doctoral), Universidad de Buenos Aires, Agentina.

Chia, F. S. (1968). Some observations on the development and cyclic changes of the oocites in brooding starfish Leptasterias hexactis Journal of Zoology, 154, 453-461.

Chia, F. S. (1969). Histology of the pyloric caeca and its changes during brooding and starvation in a starfish Leptasterias hexactis. Biology Bulletin, 136, 185-192.

Chia, F. S., & Walker, C. W. (1991). Echinodermata: Asteroidea. In A. C. Giese, J. S. Pearse & V. B. Pearse (Eds.), Reproduction of marine invertebrates: VI. Echinoderms and lophophorates (pp. 301-331). California: Boxwood Press.

Dunne, J. A., Lafferty, K. D., Dobson, A. P., Hechinger, R. F., Kuris, A. M., Martinez, N. D., Reise, K. (2013). Parasites affect food web structure primarily through increased diversity and complexity. PLOS Biology, 11(6).

Giese, A. C. (1966). On the biochemical constitution of some echinoderms. In R. A. Boolootian (Ed.), Physiology of echinodermata (pp. 757–796). New York: Interscience.

Gil, D. G., & Zaixso, H. E. (2007). The relation between feeding and reproduction in Anasterias minuta (Asteroidea: Forcipulata). Marine Biology Research, 3(4), 256-264. doi: 10.1080/17451000701472035

Gil, D. G., & Zaixso, H. E. (2008). Feeding ecology of the subantarctic sea star Anasterias minuta within tide pools in Patagonia, Argentina. Revista de Biología Tropical, 56:311–328

Gil DG, Escudera G, Zaixso HE (2011) Brooding and development of Anasterias minuta (Asteroidea: Forcipulatida) in Patagonia, Argentina. Marine Biology, 158, 2589-2602.

Gillespie, J. M., & McClintock, J. B. (2007). Brooding in echinoderms: How can modern experimental techniques add to our historical perspective? J Exp Mar Biol Ecol, 342(2), 191-201. doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2006.10.055´

Grygier, M. J. (1986). Dendrogaster (Crustacea: Ascothoracida) parasitic in Alaskan and eastern Canadian Leptasterias (Asteroidea). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 64(6), 1249-1253.

Grygier, M. J., & Salvat, M. B. (1984). Dendrogaster argentinensis, new species, a south american sea-star parasite (Crstacea: ascothoracida). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 97(1), 43-48.

Hamel, J. F., & Mercier, A. (1995). Prespawning behavior, spawning, and development of the brooding starfish Leptasterias polaris. Biology Bulletin, 188, 32-45.

Hendler, G., & Franz, D. R. (1982). The biology of a brooding seastar, Leptasterias tenera, in Block Island Sound. Biology Bulletin, 162, 273-282.

Himmelman, J. H., Lavergne, Y., Cardinal, A., G, G. M., & Jalbert, P. (1982). Brooding behaviour of the northern sea star Leptasterias polaris. Marine Biology, 68, 235-240.

Kubo, K. (1951). Some observations on the development of the sea-star, Leptasterias ochotensis similispinis (Clark). Journal Of The Faculty Of Science Hokkaido University Series V. I. Zoology, 10(2), 97-105.

Lafferty, K. D., Dobson, A. P., & Kuris, A. M. (2006). Parasites dominate food web links. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(30), 11211-11216.

Laptikhovsky, V., Brickle, P., Söffker, M., Davidson, D., Roux, M. J., Rexer-Huber, K., Brewin, P. E., Kälkvist, E., Brown, J., Brown, S., Black, A., Anders, N. R., Cartwright, S., Poncet, D., Parker, G. (2015). Life history and population characteristics of the Antarctic starfish, Anasterias antarctica Lütken, 1856 (Asteroidea: Forcipulatida: Asteriidae) around the Falkland Islands. Polar Biology, 463–474

Lawrence, J. M. (1987a). Echinoderms. In T. J. Pandian & F. J. Vernberg (Eds.), Animal energetics (Vol. 2, pp. 229-321). San Diego: Academic Press.

Lawrence, J. M. (1987b). A functional biology of echinoderms London: Croom Helm

Lawrence, J. M., & McClintock, J. B. (1994). Energy acquisition and allocation by echinoderms (Echinodermata) in polar seas: adaptations for success? In B. David, A. Guille, J. P. Fe´ral & M. Roux (Eds.), Echinodermata (pp. 39-52). Rotterdam: Balkema.

Lucas, A. (1996). Energetics of aquatic animals. Taylor and Francis Press.

Lloret, J., & Planes, S. (2003). Condition, feeding and reproductive potential of white seabream Diplodus sargus as indicators of habitat quality and the effect of reserve protection in the northwestern Mediterranean. Marine Ecology Progress Serie, 248, 197-208.

Mariante, F. L. F., Lemos, G. B., Eutrópio, F. J., Castro, R. R. L., & Gomes, L. S. (2010). Reproductive biology in the starfish Echinaster (Othilia) guyanensis (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) in southeastern Brazil. Zoologia, 27(6), 897-901. doi: 10.1590/S1984-46702010000600010

McClintock, J. B. (1989). Energetic composition, reproductive output, and resource allocation of antarctic asteroids. Polar Biology, 9, 147-153.

McClintock, J. B., & Pearse, J. S. (1987). Biochemical composition of antarctic echinoderms. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, 86, 683-687.

Mercier, A., & Hamel, J.-F. (2008). Depth-related shift in life history strategies of a brooding and broadcasting deep-sea asteroid. Marine Biology, 156(2), 205-223. doi: 10.1007/s00227-008-1077-x

Palmer, P. L. (1997). A new species of ascothoracid parasite (Maxillopoda) from the Otago Shelf, New Zealand, and a new host record. Crustaceana, 769-779.

Palmer, P. L. (2009). The biology of Dendrogaster (Crustacea, Ascothoracida), parasitic in sea stars from Otago, New Zealand. University of Otago.

Pérez, A., Boy, C., Morriconi, E., & Calvo, J. (2010). Reproductive cycle and reproductive output of the sea urchin Loxechinus albus (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) from Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Polar Biology, 33, 271-280.

Pérez, A., Morriconi, E., Boy, C., & Calvo, J. (2008). Seasonal changes in energy allocation to somatic and reproductive body components of the common cold temperature sea urchin Loxechinus albus in a Sub-Antarctic environmet. Polar Biology, 31, 443-449.

Pérez, A. F., Boy, C. C., Calcagno, J., & Malanga, G. (2015). Reproduction and oxidative metabolism in Anasterias antarctica, a brooding sea star. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 463, 150-157.

Raymond, J. F., Himmelman, J. H., & Guderley, H. E. (2004). Sex differences in biochemical composition, energy content and allocation to reproductive effort in the brooding sea star Leptasterias polaris. Marine Ecology Progress Serie, 283, 179-190.

Raymond, J. F., Himmelman, J. H., & Guderley, H. E. (2007). Biochemical content, energy composition and reproductive effort in the broadcasting sea star Asterias vulgaris over the spawning period. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 341(1), 32-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2006.10.030

Romanelli-Michel, M. V. (2014). Revisión taxonómica de las estrellas de mar de la familia Asteriidae Gray, 1840 (Asteroidea: Forcipulatida) del Atlántico Sudoccidental. (PhD Thesis), Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Salvat, M. B. (1985). Biología de la reproducción de Anasterias minuta Perrier (Echinodermata, Asteroidea), especie incubadora de las costas patagonicas. (PhD), Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Sokal, R. R., & Rohlf, J. (1995). Biometry. The principles and practice of statistics in biological research, 3rd edn. WH Freeman and Company, New York

Strathmann, R. R., Strathmann, M. F., & Emson, R. H. (1984). Does Limited Brood Capacity Link Adult Size, Brooding, and Simultaneous Hermaphroditism? A Test with the Starfish Asterina phylactica. The American Naturalist, 123(6), 796-818.

Zar, J. H. (1984). Biostatistical analysis. New York: Prentice-Hall.



Download data is not yet available.