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Limb autotomy, epibiosis on embryos, and brooding care in the crab Cyrtograpsus angulatus (Brachyura: Varunidae)

  • Paola Silva (a1), Tomás A. Luppi (a1) and Eduardo D. Spivak (a1)


The effects of the multiple autotomy on epibiosis infestation on embryos, on the survival of embryos, and on brooding care behaviour were examined in females of Cyrtograpsus angulatus, a south-western Atlantic intertidal and subtidal crab. The population of C. angulatus in Mar Chiquita, a coastal lagoon, presents a high incidence of limb autotomy. Newly laid embryos of both healthy and autotomized females were immediately colonized by bacteria and filamentous fungi, peritrichid ciliates, and few small animal species, while detritus was accumulated. The periphery of the embryo mass was more infested by epibionts and accumulated more detritus than the central region. Multiple autotomy in female C. angulatus increased the epibiosis and detritus accumulation in embryos and pleopods, decreased the chance of embryos to complete their development. The following behaviours related to brooding care were observed in both healthy and autotomized females: standing, chela and pereiopod probing, abdominal flapping, pleopod beating and maxilliped beating. However, the time devoted to standing and abdominal flapping was significantly higher in healthy and autotomized females, respectively. Brooding care behaviour in non-ovigerous females and in females with early and late embryos, suggests the presence of different signalling systems that trigger them. We propose that multiple autotomy modifies brood care, decreases the success of embryonic development and, consequently, reduces the contribution of autotomized females (approximately 30% of the potentially reproductive females of C. angulatus in Mar Chiquita) to the following generation.


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Limb autotomy, epibiosis on embryos, and brooding care in the crab Cyrtograpsus angulatus (Brachyura: Varunidae)

  • Paola Silva (a1), Tomás A. Luppi (a1) and Eduardo D. Spivak (a1)


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