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Reproductive Behavior of Intersexes of an Intertidal Amphipod Corophium volutator

Dean G. McCurdy, Daniel C. Painter, Michael T. Kopec, Diana Lancaster, Kathy A. Cook and Mark R. Forbes
Invertebrate Biology
Vol. 127, No. 4 (2008), pp. 417-425
Published by: Wiley on behalf of American Microscopical Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40206214
Page Count: 9
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Reproductive Behavior of Intersexes of an Intertidal Amphipod Corophium volutator
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Abstract

Intersexes are common in crustaceans. Typically, these intersexes are sterile or function as females, but prior evidence from laboratory experiments suggests that intersexes of a key species of gammaridean amphipod, Corophium volutator, might function as males. We observed that intersexes of C. volutator behaved as males by crawling (mate-searching) on a mudflat during ebb tides and pairing in burrows with female amphipods. In the laboratory, intersexes and males did not differ in aspects of crawling such as movement rate and measures of burrow investigation. Pntersexuality was costly in that intersexes crawled less often than males on a mudflat, formed fewer pairs with females than males, and remained in tandem less often with receptive females than males. The use of PCR-based identification methods failed to identify the presence of transovarial, feminizing, microsporidian parasites as a major cause of intersexuality in this species in that infected females did not produce broods that contained more intersexes than broods produced by uninfected females. Because intersexes may be mistaken as females, the percentage of functional males in amphipod populations may be underestimated: an important consideration given male limitation in populations of C. volutator. The occurrence of intersexes has significant implications for studies on the evolution and ecology of sex ratios, and the use of crustaceans as indicators of environmental quality.

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