Thermal tolerance of the Zoea I stage of four neotropical crab species (Crustacea: Decapoda)

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Although larval stages are often considered particularly vulnerable to stressors, for many marine invertebrates studies of thermal tolerance have focused on adults. Here we determined the upper thermal limit (LT50) of the zoea I of four Caribbean crab species (Macrocoeloma trispinosum, Aratus pisonii, Armases ricordi, and Minuca rapax) and compared their thermal tolerance over time and among species. The zoea from the subtidal species M. trispinosum and tree climbing mangrove species A. pisonii had a lower thermal tolerance, 35 and 38.5 °C respectively, than did the semiterrestrial A. ricordi and M. rapax. In all four species tested, the estimates of thermal tolerance depend on the duration of exposure to elevated temperatures. Longer exposures to thermal stress produce lower estimates of LT50, which decreased by ~1 °C from a two- to a six-hour exposure. Crab embryos develop on the abdomen of the mother until the larvae are ready to hatch. Therefore, the thermal tolerances of the embryos which need to coincide with the environmental conditions experienced by the adult stage, may carry over into the early zoea stage. Our results suggest that semiterrestrial species, in which embryos may need to withstand higher temperatures than embryos of subtidal species also produce larvae with higher thermal tolerances. Over the short term, the larvae of these tropical crab species can withstand significantly higher temperatures than those experienced in their marine habitat. Longer term rearing studies are necessary to determine the temperature at which chronic exposure has a negative impact on embryonic and larval survival.




Rebolledo, A. P., & Collin, R. (2018). Thermal tolerance of the Zoea I stage of four neotropical crab species (Crustacea: Decapoda). Zoologia, 35.

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