Habitat differences and spatial and temporal separation in reproductive swarming among sympatric nereidid polychaetes were examined in an estuary of the Omuta-gawa River, Kyushu, Japan by annual periodical sampling from December 2003 to January 2005. Benthic adults of Tylorrhynchus osawai and Hediste diadroma occupied mainly the upper reaches of the estuary, whereas those of H. japonica usually inhabited the middle reaches, though their distributions overlapped. Reproductive swarming of mature adults occurred in the estuary just after high tide at night during spring tides in four nereidids: H. japonica (in the middle and lower reaches from late December to late February), H. diadroma (throughout the whole estuary from middle December to late April), T. osawai (in the middle reaches and another estuary from late October to late December), and Nectoneanthes oxypoda sensu Imajima, 1972 (in the lower reaches in late April and early May). This result shows that temporal separation of reproductive swarming may act as a reproductive isolation mechanism among these nereidids, except for H. japonica and H. diadroma. Simultaneous swarming and mass-spawning of the two Hediste species were commonly observed in the middle and lower reaches from late December to early February, suggesting the absence of a pre-spawning barrier to reproductive isolation between them. We found no difference in spawning behavior between H. japonica and H. diadroma. Males of both species seemed to participate in swarming earlier than females.
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