Rhythms in larval release of the sublittoral crab Neopanope sayi and the supralittoral crab Sesarma cinereum (Decapoda: Brachyura)
Ovigerous females of the subtidal xanthid crab Neopanope sayi (Smith) and the high intertidal grapsid crab Sesarma cinereum (Bosc) were collected during the summers of 1986 and 1987 in the Beaufort, North Carolina (USA), area and brought into the laboratory, where rhythms in larval release were monitored. When crabs with late-stage embryos were put under a 14 h light:10 h dark cycle in an otherwise constant-environment room, an apparent tidal rhythm in release of larvae was observed for both species, with N. sayi releasing near the time of day and night high tides, and S. cinereum releasing around the time of night high tides. The time of sunset relative to high tide was a complicating factor, since larval release for both species was often concentrated around sunset when evening high tides fell several hours before sunset. When a group of N. sayi and S. cinereum were brought into the laboratory and placed under constant lowlevel light for 5 d, the release rhythm of the population persisted, thus implying that the rhythm is endogenous. Larval release near the time of high tide and often at night is common among brachyurans living in tidal areas, regardless of specific adult habitat, suggesting a common functional advantage. Possibilities include transport of larvae from areas where predation and the likelihood of stranding and exposure to low-salinity waters are high, as well as a reduced probability of predation on adult females. Results of the present study suggest that the importance of release after darkness may increase with increasing tidal height of the adult. © 1989 Springer-Verlag.
De Vries, MC; Forward, RB
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