Calotte morphology in the phylum Dicyemida: niche separation and convergence


*H. Furuya. E-mail:


The renal sacs of a diversity of cephalopod molluscs were examined to study the morphology of dicyemid mesozoans. Most of the dicyemid species studied were found to be host specific. Typically, two or more species of dicyemids were present in each host species or each host individual. When dicyemid species co-occurred, their calotte shapes were distinctly different. The following variations in calotte shapes were usually detected within a given host individual: (1) when two species of dicyemids were present, two distinct calotte shapes, conical and discoidal, were observed; (2) when three species of dicyemids were present, three types of calotte configurations were observed, conical (two grades) and discoidal; (3) when more than four species of dicyemids were present, at least one species was characterized by its rare irregularly shaped calotte. As a rule, when more than two dicyemid species were present in a single host individual, calotte shapes were dissimilar. Calotte shapes in dicyemid species from different host species more closely resemble each other than those of dicyemids observed within the same host species. Dicyemids with conical or dome-shaped calottes are found within the convolutions or folds of the renal appendages, whereas those with flat, discoidal calottes attach to the surface of the renal appendages. In the dicyemids, calotte morphology seems to result from adaptation to the structure of host renal tissues and helps to facilitate niche separation of coexisting species.