Larval release rhythm of the mole crab Emerita talpoida (Say).
Ovigerous mole crabs Emerita talpoida (Say) were monitored in the laboratory to determine if the time of larval release is synchronous and under endogenous control. To determine the time of larval release, ovigerous females were placed under a 14:10 light/dark cycle simulating the ambient photoperiod. Hatching was rhythmic, occurring as a quick burst lasting about 5-15 min shortly after the onset of darkness. An individual mole crab will release batches of larvae for up to three successive nights, suggesting that the rhythm is under endogenous control. Mole crabs monitored under constant low-level red light displayed the same release pattern with hatching occurring near the time of expected sunset, indicating the presence of a circadian rhythm in larval release. To investigate whether the female or the embryos control hatching, a portion of the egg mass (50-100 embryos) was separated from the female. The time of hatching of the detached embryos subjected to either a still or shaken treatment was compared with the hatching time of embryos still attached to the female. Detached eggs in both treatments hatched within 1.5-2 h of the time of the female-attached eggs, which suggests that embryos control the timing of hatching.
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