The lack of reliable methods for age determination often complicates the determination of individual age which is a fundamental parameter for estimating growth in population dynamics. In crustaceans, the quantification of the autofluorescent age pigment lipofuscin has recently revealed more promising results in boreal and tropical species than traditional methods. The presence of morphological lipofuscin and its possible application as an age marker in polar species was assessed in brain sections of five Arctic and five Antarctic species comprising decapods, amphipods and a euphausiid. Lipofuscin granules were located using confocal fluorescence microscopy and quantified (as % lipofuscin area fraction) from digital images. The pigment was found in 94 of 100 individuals and in all ten species, and granules occurred in easily detectable amounts in five species. Two scavenging amphipod species, the Antarctic Waldeckia obesa and the Arctic Eurythenes gryllus, revealed the most conspicuous and numerous granules. There was a broad, though weak, correlation with individual body size within a species, but not with absolute body size of one species compared to another. In larvae of the decapod Chorismus antarcticus, lipofuscin accumulation was quantified over the first four months after larval release. Factors potentially influencing lipofuscin formation and their relevance for polar species are discussed. Factors explaining the pronounced differences in lipofuscin content between species for the moment remain unknown. The possibility for application of morphological lipofuscin as an index of age is encouraging for those investigated species with a sufficient accumulation rate of the pigment, and further studies will therefore be conducted.
AWI Organizations > Biosciences > Marine Animal Ecology