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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


THIEL, MARTIN. Extended parental care in crustaceans: an update. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2003, vol.76, n.2, pp.205-218. ISSN 0716-078X.

Many crustacean species show extended parental care (XPC) for fully developed juvenile offspring. Herein, the present state of knowledge of the major patterns and consequences of XPC is reviewed, and furthermore important future research topics are identified. Crustaceans with XPC are found in marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments, but care for late juvenile stages appears to be more common in terrestrial environments. In all species, females participate or even take the main share of XPC activities. Crustaceans that carry their offspring during XPC commonly release early juvenile stages, while species inhabiting particular microhabitats may host offspring until these have reached subadult or adult stages. Apart from providing a suitable and safe microhabitat to small offspring, parents share food with, groom or actively defend their juveniles. Some of the most important benefits of XPC include improved juvenile growth and survival. XPC may also lead to conflicts among developing offspring or between parents and offspring, especially during later phases of XPC when resources (food and space) become increasingly limiting. Similarly, during long-lasting cohabitation, epibionts (e.g., parasites) may be transferred from parents to offspring, as is indicated by observational evidence. For several species, local recruitment, where juveniles recruit in the immediate vicinity of their parents, has been observed. Under these conditions, local populations may rapidly increase, potentially leading to intra-specific competition for space, thereby possibly causing a decrease in reproductive activity or a reduction in length of XPC. Another consequence of XPC and local recruitment could be limited dispersal potential, but some marine crustaceans with XPC and local recruitment nevertheless have a wide geographic distribution. It is hypothesized that the existence of suitable dispersal vectors such as floating macroalgae or wood can lead to a substantial increase in dispersal distances of crustaceans with XPC via rafting, surpassing that of crustaceans with pelagic larvae. Since crustaceans with XPC may be particularly susceptible to changing environmental conditions, especially in the terrestrial environment where populations are often small and locally restricted, conservation of biodiversity should focus on these (and other invertebrate) species with XPC

Keywords : Crustacea; Peracarida; reproduction; parental care; habitat, evolution.

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