The sustainable management of fisheries resources requires extensive knowledge of their reproductive biology, which is scarcely the case for marine invertebrates. Sea urchins are among the most intensively harvested invertebrates, since their gonads, or “roe”, constitute a highly appreciated gastronomic delicacy, causing a severe decline in natural populations worldwide. In the Mediterranean, the typical commercial echinoid species is Paracentrotus lividus
; its biology, however, has not been adequately studied in the Aegean Sea. Within this context, the present study examined the reproductive biology of the edible sea urchin, P. lividus
, in the Aegean Sea (Pagasitikos Gulf) over a two-year period. Adult specimens were randomly collected by SCUBA diving (3–5 m) at monthly intervals to determine the gonad-somatic index, fecundity, and gametogenesis through the morphological and histological examination of the gonads. An annual reproductive cycle was defined in both years with a clear spawning peak in early spring, conforming to previous reports from other Mediterranean populations. A discrete secondary spawning period was also detected in early winter, as the species undergoes a second gametogenic event. These results are indicative for the increased reproductive potential of P. lividus
in its south distributional range, suggesting a relevant revision of the official fishing season of the species.
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