BIOTIC Species Information for Capitella capitata
Researched byLizzie Tyler Data supplied byUniversity of Sheffield
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeInsufficient information
Developmental mechanismLecithotrophic
Reproductive SeasonAll year Reproductive LocationAs adult
Reproductive frequencyAnnual protracted Regeneration potential No
Life span1-2 years Age at reproductive maturity<1 year
Generation time<1 year Fecundity600
Egg/propagule size175 µm diameter Fertilization typeInsufficient information
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potentialSee additional information Larval settlement periodSee additional information
Duration of larval stage   
Reproduction Preferences Additional InformationAge at maturity
Studies on natural populations in England show that sexual maturity is reached at about 4 months (Warren, 1976). However, in other geographical locations, sexual maturity may be reached at 3.5 months (Qian & Chia, 1994). In the laboratory, sexual maturity may be reached between 31 and 48 days after recruitment, depending on temperature (12.6-22 °C) (Tsutsumi & Kikuchi, 1984).

  • Warren (1976) noted that spawning occurred throughout the year in Plymouth, with all oocytes being released at a single spawning. Warren (1976) also noted that oocytes are not released into the coelomic fluid until almost fully developed and that larval development may have been completely benthonic. However, in the USA another variant of Capitella capitata, Capitella species 1, has been shown to have planktonic larval development for a short time (hours to days) before settlement (Grassle & Grassle, 1974). This species is considered to be iteroparous, and the lecithotrophic larvae are brooded during part of their development within the adult tube.
  • Holte & Oug (1996) noted that in northern Norway, Capitella capitata occurred in two variants; one small form with large eggs (250 µm) and one large form with small eggs (100-125 µm). Similar variants have been found in British waters (Pearson & Pearson, 1991).
Larval development
  • Planas & Mora (1989) calculated that individuals from the north west of Spain take 2-4 weeks to change from eggs to the juvenile stage and about 3 months from juveniles to adults.
  • Cultures of sibling species have indicated a generation time of 30-40 days (Grassle & Grassle, 1976; Grassle, 1984; Whitlatch & Zajac, 1985).
  • Capitella species 1 larvae were attracted by a sulphide concentration of 0.1mm to 1.0mm, yielding higher settlement, subsequent metamorphosis and survival of settled polychaetes compared with non-sulphidic controls (Cuomo, 1985).
Fecundity has been recorded as 460 eggs per female in Barcelona (Mendez, 1995) to 6-600 eggs per female in USA (Grassle & Grassle, 1974).

Potential longevity ranged from 45 days in Barcelona (Mendez et al., 1997) to 2 years in a population in England (Warren, 1976).

Other information
Lopes et al. (2000) found that animals fed on the sea grass Zostera marina had the smallest body size, became sexually mature in the shortest period and had the highest average fecundity. Number of eggs produced from the first spawn was the highest for the individuals fed on the bull kelp Nereocystis luetkeana and the lowest for individuals fed on Zostera marina. Animals fed the green alga Ulva lactuca and the sea grass Zostera marina produced much larger eggs.
Reproduction References Grassle & Grassle, 1974, Pearson & Pearson, 1991, Mendez et al., 1997, Warren, 1976, Holte & Oug, 1996, Qian & Chia, 1994, Tsutsumi & Kichuki, 1984, Planas & Mora, 1989, Grassle & Grassle, 1976, Grassle, 1984, Whitlatch & Zajac, 1985, Cuomo, 1985, Mendez, 1995, Lopes et al., 2000, Eckert, 2003,
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