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Adv Mar Biol. 2003;44:143-203.

Biology of early life stages in cephalopod molluscs.

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C.N.R.S., Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls, Laboratoire Arago, F-66651 Banyuls-sur-Mer.


Recent literature on embryonic and post-embryonic development, biology and behavioural ecology of juvenile cephalopods is reviewed. Emphasis is placed on biological processes. Life-history patterns and phylogenetic systematics, which are important for a proper understanding of the evolutionary history of the cephalopods, are only briefly touched upon. Egg sizes in cephalopods range from less than 1 mm to about 30 mm in diameter, so the hatchlings emerging from the largest eggs are bigger than the adults of pygmy squid, the smallest known cephalopods. Developmental durations from spawning to hatching range from a few days (for very small eggs developing at high temperatures) to one or possibly several years (for very large eggs developing at low temperatures). Such important differences notwithstanding, the morphogenetic processes are very similar in all cephalopod embryos, the major variant being the size of the so-called outer yolk sac, which may be rudimentary in extremely small embryos. Several questions concerning the timing of hatching in relation to the developmental stage attained, especially in terms of yok absorption, need clarification. These questions concern the elimination of the transient closure of the mouth, the final differentiation of digestive gland cells, and the removal of the tranquilliser effect of the perivitelline fluid necessary for the onset of the hatching behaviour. Cephalopod hatchlings are active predators. They refine their behavioural repertoires by learning from individual experience in dealing with prey and would-be predators. There is no truly larval phase, and the ecologically defined term paralarva should be used with caution. Given the considerable resource potential of cephalopods, investigations into dispersal and recruitment are of particular interest to fishery biology, but they are also important for ecological biogeography. The related studies of feeding and growth involve field sampling and tentative age determination of caught specimens, in combination with laboratory studies to test food quality, measure feeding rates, and validation of periodicities in accretional growth structures (e.g. "daily rings" in statoliths).

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