Food Restrictions Affect the Larval Metamorphosis and Early Juvenile Performance in a Neotropical Mangrove Fiddler Crab ( Leptuca cumulanta )

Adelson Silva De Souza, Tayse Nascimento Do Rosário, Darlan De Jesus De Brito Simith, Fernando Araújo Abrunhosa
Biological Bulletin 2019, 236 (3): 186-198
Sporadic fluctuations in food availability may affect larval biology and post-metamorphic development in many marine invertebrates. In an experimental study in the laboratory, we investigated whether different regimes (1, 3, and 5 days) of initial starvation or feeding affect the survival and duration of the last planktotrophic larval stage ( i.e. , megalopa) of the neotropical mangrove fiddler crab Leptuca cumulanta . Newly metamorphosed crabs originating from megalopae starved for 1 and 3 days were cultured through the first 5 juvenile stages to further evaluate whether prior nutritional experience affects the post-larval performance of this species. All megalopae that were starved continuously died, while 80% of the larvae that were fed constantly metamorphosed successfully into the juvenile stage. Megalopae initially starved for 3 and 5 days exhibited lower survival (55% and 30% of larval metamorphosis, respectively) than larvae starved for only 1 day (85%) or fed constantly. The starvation periods (1, 3, and 5 days) also significantly prolonged the mean megalopal stage duration (12.8, 13.9, and 14.3 days, respectively) compared to the continuous feeding regime (10.6 days). Survival of the megalopae subjected to different periods of initial feeding (1, 3, and 5 days) was significantly lower (15.0%, 57.5%, and 62.5%, respectively) than survival of the larvae fed constantly. The mean megalopal stage duration, by contrast, did not vary among megalopae initially fed for 3 and 5 days or fed continuously (10.4 days). The larval starvation did not affect survival and carapace shape of juveniles, but it did alter their intermolt period, growth, and body size. These carryover effects were stronger in the first juvenile crab stage than in other juvenile stages. Our results indicate that the timing and duration of the starvation or feeding regime experienced by the megalopae may affect their successful survival and developmental period until metamorphosis to juvenile life. In addition, the preceding larval starvation associated with a prolonged larval period may also affect early juvenile performance in specific crab stages of L. cumulanta .


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