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Male morphotypes in the Andean river shrimp Cryphiops caementarius (Decapoda: Caridea): morphology, coloration and injuries



Martin Thiel, Marine Biology, Universidad Católica del Norte, Larrondo 1281, Coquimbo 5651, Chile. Tel: +56 51 209939



In many species, different male morphotypes usually employ different tactics to access resources. Males with highly developed weapons are expected to fight and possibly incur higher levels of injury than males with less developed weapons, which usually avoid agonistic encounters. Discrete male morphotypes, where some males are very large and feature powerful chelae, have been reported for several large shrimp species, where males show a lobster-like monopolization of resources. During competitive interactions, these large males fight more vigorously than small males and, consequently, it is expected that they accumulate more injuries. Herein, we identified different morphotypes in the river shrimp Cryphiops caementarius, and we compared the percentage of body damage between large and small shrimps. We measured 26 morphometric data and 6 intensities of color on the chelipeds. Multivariate analysis based on a combination of morphometric and color data confirmed that there are two morphotypes. The ‘dominant’ morph is characterized by stout teeth on the cutting edges and by dark blue color on the external surface of the major cheliped. The two morphotypes can be distinguished based on the differences in the allometric relationships between several morphologic traits and carapace length. Males from the large morphotype had a higher percentage of injuries on their chelipeds than other males. These results suggest that males from the large morphotype are dominant and compete aggressively for access to resources, a hypothesis to be tested in future, behavioral studies.