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n. (context biology English) A form of reproduction in some polychaete annelids in which the worms undergo a partial or complete transformation into an epitoke, a pelagic morph capable of sexual reproduction


Epitoky is a process that occurs in many species of polychaete marine worms wherein a sexually immature worm (the atoke) is modified or transformed into a sexually mature worm (the epitoke). Epitokes are pelagic morphs capable of sexual reproduction. Unlike the immature form, which is typically benthic (live on the bottom), epitokes are specialized for swimming as well as reproducing. The primary benefit to epitoky is increased chances of finding other members of the same species for reproduction.

There are two methods in which epitoky can occur: schizogamy and epigamy.