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MEPS 505:177-191 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10767

Energetic adaptations to larval export within the brackish-water palaemonine shrimp, Palaemonetes varians 

Andrew Oliphant*, Sven Thatje

Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Decapod crustaceans have repeatedly colonised brackish, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. Many decapods that inhabit brackish and freshwater habitats export larvae into estuarine and coastal areas where conditions for larval development may be better. In this study, we assessed the starvation resistance, biochemical composition and respiration rate during larval development of the brackish-water palaemonine shrimp, Palaemonetes varians, and the effects of temperature on these factors. Our results demonstrate that P. varians is highly resistant to starvation and may be considered facultative lecithotrophic in its first and second larval instars, and planktotrophic from its third instar. This high starvation resistance is associated with a relatively large size, high carbon content (~45%) and C:N ratio (~4.2), and visible yolk reserves at hatching. These energy reserves are interpreted as an adaptation to the exportation of larvae from peripheral adult environments into mid- and lower estuarine waters. Respiration rates varied with the moult cycle and were similar between fed and unfed larvae, suggesting that starved larvae do not suppress their metabolism as an energy-saving strategy. Despite higher respiration rates at higher temperatures, energy loss throughout development (estimated from respiration rates) increased with decreasing temperature, whilst larval growth and development rates increased with increasing temperature. High energy reserves at hatching, as within P. varians, is an important life history adaptation in the colonisation of brackish and fresh water, initially enabling the exportation of larvae from adult environments and eventually enabling lecithotrophy and direct development.


KEY WORDS: Elemental composition · Larval ecology · Planktotrophy · Facultative feeding · Evolutionary temperature adaptation


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Cite this article as: Oliphant A, Thatje S (2014) Energetic adaptations to larval export within the brackish-water palaemonine shrimp, Palaemonetes varians . Mar Ecol Prog Ser 505:177-191. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10767

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