Population dynamics and reproduction of Holothuria tubulosa (Holothuroidea: Echinodermata) in the Aegean Sea
AuthorKazanidis, G.; Antoniadou, C.; Lolas, A. P.; Neofitou, N.; Vafidis, D.; Chintiroglou, C.; Neofitou, C.
The Atlanto-Mediterranean holothurian Holothuria tubulosa is among the conspicuous benthic invertebrates in the shallow sublittoral zone. It is an edible species, harvested at the Aegean Sea and utilized as fishing bait. Considering the lack of information for the Aegean populations, a one-year survey, based on monthly or semimonthly samples, was carried out focusing on population structure, allometric relationships and reproductive status of H. tubulosa stocks in Pagasitikos Gulf Population density varied around 9.93 individuals/100 m(2). This value was rather low compared with other studied Mediterranean populations of the species, possibly due to the scarcity of seagrass meadows in the area studied. All measured biometric characters showed high plasticity, and all the examined morphometric relationships followed negative allometry indicating a change to the shape of the animal's body as it grows. Holothurians' length was a moderate predictor of biomass since r values reached 60%; in contrast a very strong relation was observed between drained and gutted weight. Size-frequency distribution analysis was unimodal with the exception of spring where a second mode of larger sized individuals appeared. The gonadosomatic index showed a single spawning season per year, in late summer; accordingly the reproductive cycle of the species showed a clear annual pattern which was highly correlated with the seasonal variations of temperature.