Abstract

Introduction: The increase in atmospheric CO2 values and the consequent warming of seawater constitute stressors for marine ecosystems, renovating interest in echinoid physiology. The echinoid Arbacia dufresnii is a widely studied species with a wide distribution in the North Patagonian gulfs. Objective: Evaluate the effect of seawater temperature on its morphology and reproduction. Methods: Individuals were exposed for 10 weeks (April-June 2016) to three temperature treatments (13 °C control, 15 °C and 17 °C) according to the current conditions of seawater and the expected values for the next century. At the end of the experiment, diameter and weight of the whole individual and of its internal organs were statistically and histologically analyzed. Results: Individuals exposed to higher temperatures died in greater numbers. The control, and the 17 °C treatment, had no changes in dry gonad and intestine weights. However, the 15 °C group had wider diameter of test and a higher dry weight of gonads and intestine. At this temperature, the gonadal stages for males were similar to the environment, but females had more advanced stages. Conclusions: Temperature of 15°C could be optimal for assimilating food and obtaining energy. Gonads and intestine would be showing changes in the short term, unlike the calcified organs (test and Aristotle’s lantern).

Keywords: echinoid; thermal experiment; gametogenesis; gonadal production; physiology.