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 stone crab, Paralomis granulosa (Jacquinot). At 6±0.5°C, total larval development from hatching to metamorphosis lasted about 56 days, comprising two demersal zoeal stages and a benthic megalopa, with mean stage durations of 5, 11 and 45 days, respectively. All larval stages of P. granulosa are lecithotrophic, and first feeding and growth were consistently observed immediately after metamorphosis to the first juvenile crab stage. Regardless of presence or absence of food, W, C, N, and H decreased throughout larval development. Also the C:N mass ratio decreased significantly, from 7.2 at hatching to 4.2 at metamorphosis, indicating that a large initial lipid store remaining from the egg yolk was gradually utilised as an internal energy source. In total, about 68% of the initial quantities of C and H present at hatching, and 44% of N were lost during non-feeding larval development to metamorphosis. About 10% of the initially present C, N and H were lost with larval exuviae, half of which was lost in the megalopa stage alone. Hence, metabolic biomass degradation accounted for losses of about 59% in C and H but for only 33% in N. Most of the losses in C and H reflected metabolic energy consumption (primarily lipid degradation), while about a quarter of the losses in N and two thirds of those in W were due to larval exuviation. Complete larval lecithotrophy 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 limits the period of primary production.
AWI Organizations > Biosciences > Marine Animal Ecology