Lovrich, G.A., Thatje, S., Calcagno, J.A., Anger, K. and Kaffenberger, A.
Changes in biomass and chemical composition during lecithotrophic larval development of the southern king crab, Lithodes santolla (Molina)
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 288, (1), . (doi:10.1016/S0022-0981(02)00596-8).
Changes in biomass and elemental composition (dry mass, W; carbon, C; nitrogen, N; hydrogen, H) were studied in the laboratory during complete larval and early juvenile development of the southern king crab, Lithodes santolla (Molina), formerly known as Lithodes antarcticus (Jacquinot). At 6±0.5 °C, total larval development from hatching to metamorphosis lasted about 10 weeks, comprising three demersal zoeal stages and a benthic megalopa, with mean stage durations of 4, 7, 11 and 47 days, respectively. No differences in development duration or mortality were observed in larvae either fed with Artemia sp. nauplii or unfed, indicating that all larval stages of L. santolla are lecithotrophic. First feeding and growth were consistently observed immediately after metamorphosis to the first juvenile crab stage. Regardless of the presence or absence of food, W, C, N and H decreased throughout larval development. Also the C:N mass ratio decreased significantly, from 7.7 at hatching to 4.1 at metamorphosis, indicating that a large initial lipid store remaining from the egg yolk was gradually utilized as an internal energy source, while proteins played a minor role as a metabolic substrate. In total, 56–58% of the initial quantities of C and H present at hatching, and 20% of N were lost during nonfeeding larval development to metamorphosis. Nine to ten percent of the initially present C, N and H were lost with larval exuviae, half of these losses occurring in the three zoeal stages combined and another half in the megalopa stage alone. Metabolic biomass degradation accounted for losses of about 47–50% in C and H but for only 10% in N. Hence, most of the losses in C and H reflected metabolic energy consumption (primarily lipid degradation), while about half of the losses in N and two thirds of those in W were due to larval exuviation. Complete independence from food throughout larval development is based on an enhanced maternal energy investment per offspring and on energy-saving mechanisms such as low larval locomotory activity and low exuvial losses. These traits are interpreted as bioenergetic adaptations to food-limited conditions in Subantarctic regions, where a pronounced seasonality of day length limits the period of primary production, while low temperatures enforce a long duration of pelagic development.
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