Mating behaviour, epibiotic growth, and the effect of salinity on grooming activity in the hermaphroditic shrimp Lysmata wurdemanni

by Giri, Tuhin

Abstract (Summary)
Many species of caridean shrimp are protandrous hermaphrodites, maturing initially as males but developing into females as they age and grow. A unique sexual system was recently discovered in the peppermint shrimp, Lysmata wurdemanni. In this species, individuals are initially male, but become simultaneous functional hermaphrodites over time. As in most caridean shrimp, L. wurdemanni can mate as a male during the intermoult period, but can reproduce through female function for only a short period after moulting. Ecdysis does not occur en masse in this species, and thus the operational sex ratio found in populations of L. wurdemanni is extremely male-biased. Sexual selection theory suggests that these conditions will result in increased competition for access to mates. Evolutionary pressures should therefore have selected for mechanisms that permit individuals to quickly identify and locate potential mating partners.

L. wurdemanni were exposed to chemical stimuli collected from recently moulted conspecifics of varying reproductive condition. Test animals were able to distinguish among the different conditions, and physically manipulated only the plastic nozzle used to pump solutions collected from shrimp with ovaries filled with vitellogenic oocytes. It was subsequently hypothesized that methyl farnesoate, a hormone associated with ovarian maturation in crustaceans, might be a key component of sex pheromones used by L. wurdemanni. However, a series of methyl farnesoate concentrations did not elicit responses, indicating this species does not use this hormone alone when determining reproductive condition.

Reproductive behaviour in L. wurdemanni was observed to differ both before and after copulation, as well as with increasing population density. Intermoult individuals were more likely to approach, follow and remain in the vicinity of a near-moult shrimp before mating could occur, and under high density conditions. The near-moult shrimp approached conspecifics only under low density conditions, and performed rapid escape behaviours only after copulation had occurred.

The unusual occurrence of epibiota upon L. wurdemanni was described, and the location, size and age of barnacles quantified. The effect of salinity upon grooming activities was tested. Results indicated that carapace grooming was depressed at low salinities, and could account for the considerable epibiota found in this region.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Wicksten, Mary K.; Sweet, Merrill H.; Packard, Jane M.; Vinson, S. Bradleigh

School:Texas A&M University

School Location:USA - Texas

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:shrimp sexual selection hermaphrodite pheromone salinity grooming


Date of Publication:08/01/2003

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