The biogeography of marine invertebrate life histories

Dustin J. Marshall, Patrick J. Krug, Elena K. Kupriyanova, Maria Byrne, Richard B. Emlet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Biologists have long sought to identify and explain patterns in the diverse array of marine life histories. The most famous speculation about such patterns is Gunnar Thorson's suggestion that species producing planktonic larvae are rarer at higher latitudes (Thorson's rule). Although some elements of Thorson's rule have proven incorrect, other elements remain untested. With a wealth of new life-history data, statistical approaches, and remote-sensing technology, new insights into marine reproduction can be generated. We gathered life-history data for more than 1,000 marine invertebrates and examined patterns in the prevalence of different life histories. Systematic patterns in marine life histories exist at a range of scales, some of which support Thorson, whereas others suggest previously unrecognized relationships between the marine environment and the life histories of marine invertebrates. Overall, marine life histories covary strongly with temperature and local ocean productivity, and different regions should be managed accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-114
Number of pages18
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • complex life-cycles
  • egg size
  • maternal effects
  • meta-analysis
  • offspring size


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