Spawn and the embryonic development of two species of the genus Polycera were studied. Both species, Polycera aurantiomarginata and Polycera quadrilineata, were collected in the intertidal zone of El Portil (Huelva) in south-western Spain. In the laboratory spawn were collected daily. Length and width of the spawn, number of eggs per mm2, egg size and capsule size were measured. The egg masses were controlled several times a day to provide a timetable for the main developmental events until hatching. Embryonic growth was measured between some characteristic stages (gastrula, preveliger, primordial velum and veliger prior to hatch).
The two species differ in a number of aspects: spawn are longer, eggs and capsules are bigger in P. aurantiomarginata than in P. quadrilineata. The number of eggs per mm2, however, is greater in P. quadrilineata than in its congener. Furthermore, spawn of P. quadrilineata are semicircular whereas those of P. aurantiomarginata are spiral and wavy. Both species show planktotrophic development but embryonic development of P. quadrilineata is faster than that of P. aurantiomarginata. The dynamic of embryonic growth is very similar in the two species, although embryos of P. aurantiomarginata are larger at any measured stage than those of P. quadrilineata.