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Physiol Zool. 1998 Jul-Aug;71(4):400-6.

Metabolism during delayed hatching in terrestrial eggs of a marine fish, the grunion Leuresthes tenuis.

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Department of Biology, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California 90263-4321, USA.


California grunion, Leuresthes tenuis (Osteichthyes: Atherinidae), leave the ocean to spawn in the sand following extreme high tides in summer. Eggs develop out of water and are able to hatch within 9-13 d, the primary hatching period. Eggs hatch on immersion and agitation by waves at the next extreme high-tide series. However, if the waves do not reach them and hatching is not induced, eggs remain viable in the sand for several weeks. During this period, grunion eggs will delay hatching, but will hatch at any time if immersed and agitated in seawater. Egg metabolism during embryonic development was measured by aerial respirometry. Metabolism increased linearly until the first date at which eggs were able to hatch. At that time, metabolic rate stabilized and remained constant for two additional weeks of embryonic incubation. Larvae induced to hatch after different durations of incubation within this period were not significantly different in length; however, the amount of oil contained in the yolk decreased linearly during the delayed hatching period. We suggest that the increase in grunion egg metabolism during the time to primary hatching capability, and the steady, high metabolic rate throughout the delayed hatching period, permit reproduction in the unique niche of these marine eggs. These semiterrestrial anamniotic eggs develop quickly and remain continuously ready to hatch over an extended period in response to an environmentally dependent and somewhat unpredictable embryonic timetable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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