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Comparative reproductive biology of two southwestern Atlantic populations of the hermit crab Pagurus exilis (Crustacea: Anomura: Paguridae)

Authors

  • Mariana Terossi,

    1.  Laboratory of Bioecology and Crustacean Systematics, Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP),University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
    2.  Postgraduate Program in Comparative Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP), University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
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  • Lucas S. Torati,

    1.  Laboratory of Bioecology and Crustacean Systematics, Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP),University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
    2.  Postgraduate Program in Comparative Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP), University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
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  • Ivana Miranda,

    1.  Laboratory of Bioecology and Crustacean Systematics, Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP),University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
    2.  Postgraduate Program in Comparative Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP), University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
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  • Marcelo A. Scelzo,

    1.  Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata/CONICET, Mar del Plata, Argentina
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  • Fernando L. Mantelatto

    1.  Laboratory of Bioecology and Crustacean Systematics, Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP),University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
    2.  Postgraduate Program in Comparative Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP), University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
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Fernando L. Mantelatto, Laboratory of Bioecology and Crustacean Systematics, Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP), University of São Paulo (USP), 14040-901 Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil.E-mail: flmantel@usp.br

Abstract

Pagurus exilis (Benedict, 1892) is an endemic South Atlantic hermit crab with a distribution ranging from Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil, to Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. The present study analyzed the reproduction of two populations at the extremes of this geographical distribution, and compared their reproductive period, fecundity, and changes in egg size and egg volume during the incubation period in order to assess the variability over this latitudinal range. Hermit crabs were collected monthly over a 2-year period. In total, 108 females were analyzed for Brazil (44 non-ovigerous and 64 ovigerous), and 141 for Argentina (87 non-ovigerous and 54 ovigerous). Reproduction in Brazil occurs year-round, with peaks in the fall and winter seasons; in Argentina reproduction occurs only in spring and summer. The Brazilian ovigerous females were significantly larger than the Argentina ones (Brazil: SL = 5.33 ± 1.45 mm; Argentina: SL = 4.15 ± 0.52 mm; P < 0.001). The fecundity was 1447 ± 831 eggs (317 to 2885) in Brazil and 987 ± 711 eggs (114 to 2665) in Argentina, with a trend towards higher fecundity in Brazil. Eggs in the Argentina population were larger than those in Brazil for all the three stages investigated, and no changes in egg volume were found during egg development for both populations. The reproductive traits of the two populations showed some important differences, which may reflect adaptations to local environmental conditions, demonstrating a high plasticity of reproductive features of the species in Brazilian and Argentine waters. The strategy adopted by the Argentina population involves a lower production of larger eggs compared to the population in Brazil; this lower production is associated with reproduction in cold-water regions.

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