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As true for many species of broadcast-spawning marine invertebrates, chance plays a major role in survival of the individual and its growth to maturity and effective reproduction.  The population is dependent on successful larval recruitment and sufficient postlarval--juvenile survival to maintain its membership.  High fecundity and the potential for massive production of larvae have become essential elements supporting populations of free-spawning aquatic species.  Chance is especially operative among abalones, sea urchins, mussels, scallops and other species in which spawning must be synchronized and gametes must have a high probability of meeting to begin the life cycle. 

Little is known about natural coordinating mechanisms, environmental cues, and the animal's endocrine and receptor systems.  Many species, including abalones and echinoids, show a tendency toward a lunar periodicity in their spawning behavior.

As many populations of abalone worldwide are declining, due in large part to overexploitation, the critical areas to the abalone life cycle are gaining increased attention by researchers.  Loss of breeding stock limits larval production, population growth, and even survival of the species.  Studies are focusing on ocean currents and eddy systems, changes in temperature regimes, and biological elements of abalone habitat, including algal community structure, predators, pollution and disease.  The interested student will want to keep abreast of developments in these fields through updates in topics presented at various marine biology conferences and symposia. 

Recent reports published in the Journal of Shellfish Research and reports from papers delivered at the periodic International Abalone Symposia are a rich source of this information.  At this web site some of these contributions are considered and relevant literature cited therein.


Natural History
Abalone Aquaculture
Carlsbad Aquafarm
Juvenile Culture