Marine organisms in Antarctica are adapted to an extreme ecosystem including extremely stable temperatures and strong seasonality due to changes in day length. It is now largely accepted that Southern Ocean organisms are particularly vulnerable to global warming with some regions already being challenged by a rapid increase of temperature. Climate change affects both the physical and biotic components of marine ecosystems and will have an impact on the distribution and population dynamics of Antarctic marine organisms. To predict and assess the effect of climate change on marine ecosystems a more comprehensive knowledge of the life history and physiology of key species is urgently needed. In this study we estimate the Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) model parameters for key benthic Antarctic species the sea star Odontaster validus using available information from literature and experiments. The DEB theory is unique in capturing the metabolic processes of an organism through its entire life cycle as a function of temperature and food availability. The DEB model allows for the inclusion of the different life history stages, and thus, becomes a tool that can be used to model lifetime feeding, growth, reproduction, and their responses to changes in biotic and abiotic conditions. The DEB model presented here includes the estimation of reproduction handling rules for the development of simultaneous oocyte cohorts within the gonad. Additionally it links the DEB model reserves to the pyloric caeca an organ whose function has long been ascribed to energy storage. Model parameters described a slowed down metabolism of long living animals that mature slowly. O. validus has a large reserve that-matching low maintenance costs- allow withstanding long periods of starvation. Gonad development is continuous and individual cohorts developed within the gonads grow in biomass following a power function of the age of the cohort. The DEB model developed here for O. validus allowed us to increase our knowledge on the ecophysiology of this species, providing new insights on the role of food availability and temperature on its life cycle and reproduction strategy
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