Aplysia punctata

Aplysia punctata

Aplysia punctata

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Aplysia punctata

Aplysia punctata is a species of sea slug in the family Aplysiidae, the sea hares. It reaches a length of up to 20 cm (7.9 in) and is found in the northeast Atlantic, ranging from Greenland and Norway to the Mediterranean Sea.


Habits and Lifestyle

Diet and Nutrition

Aplysia punctata are grazing organisms which prefer to reside and feed on algal seaweed beds. Using their radula, A. punctata tear up seaweeds in order to consume them and are found to eat up to one-third of their body weight per day of algae. Individuals of A. punctata found in the intertidal area are recorded to be larger than those in deep waters due to a comparatively larger abundance of food. However, individuals with smaller diets are thought to have lower initial mortality rates and live longer than those with unlimited diets suggesting that caloric restriction is advantageous. Feeding and sexual reproduction both take place upon algal beds which provide a source of food and protection for A. punctata. Their coloration is usually determined from the pigments in the seaweed they feed upon which in turn also provides them with camouflage. Mediterranean species of A. punctata feed primarily on red algae of the genus Laurencia which provide them with metabolites known to produce antifungals, antivirals, and cytotoxins for self defense.

Mating Habits

Spawning occurs in the springtime beginning in May as water temperature warms and continues until around October with species tending to only live for approximately one year. Aplysia punctata are simultaneous hermaphrodites with their individual sexual role being determined by either mass or egg-laying specialization. However, they do not self-fertilize and engage in mating behavior that can involve multiple individuals. During warmer months, behavior is dominated by reproduction and feeding, with little time spent crawling or remaining sedentary. Embryos develop from laid eggs and continue to a larval stage, becoming temporary members of the plankton. Larva rapidly transform into juveniles with sexual maturity typically occurring within three and four months from birth. A. punctata are benthic gastropods found in both littoral and sublittoral habitats with a large range spanning the northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean sea. They are known to colonize both shallow, intertidal waters and also deeper zones within their range.



1. Aplysia punctata Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aplysia_punctata

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