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A complex sexual cycle in sandy beaches: the reproductive strategy of Emerita brasiliensis (Decapoda: Anomura)

  • Estela Delgado (a1) and Omar Defeo (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Reproductive tactics displayed by the mole crab Emerita brasiliensis that inhabits Atlantic beaches of South America are reported. The analysis of external sexual characters and reproductive organs disclosed seven developmental forms: megalopae, neotenic males, early females, juveniles, males, females (ovigerous or not) and intersex individuals. Precocious acquisition of gonopores in females, production of spermatophores in neotenic males and presence of juveniles and intersex individuals are reported for the first time for this species. Sex ratios were biased towards male forms in summer, whereas the opposite trend was observed in autumn. The occurrence of different forms within a single population, coupled with a marked temporal variability in its abundance, suggest a high complexity in the sexual life cycle of the mole crab. This involves two different pathways: (a) short, where megalopae moult into neotenic (mature) males or early females; and (b) long, following a sequence of moults involving several stages (zoeas, megalopae, juveniles and adults).

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A complex sexual cycle in sandy beaches: the reproductive strategy of Emerita brasiliensis (Decapoda: Anomura)

  • Estela Delgado (a1) and Omar Defeo (a1) (a2)

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