Reproductive dependence of a branchiobdellidan annelid on its crayfish host: confirmation of a mutualism

in Crustaceana
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The ectosymbiotic branchiobdellidan Cambarincola ingens Hoffman, 1963 can increase the growth and reduce mortality of the crayfish Cambarus chasmodactylus James, 1966. These results suggest that these two species are engaged in a cleaning symbiosis mutualism. However, the potential benefits C. ingens derives from the association, specifically its reproductive dependence on the crayfish, have not been examined experimentally. We conducted two experiments to determine if C. ingens was reproductively dependent on C. chasmodactylus. In the experiments, worms only laid cocoons on live crayfish. Also, significantly more cocoons were laid on larger crayfish which was consistent with a survey of worm and cocoon abundance on crayfish collected from a local river. These results suggest that C. ingens is dependent on its crayfish host for reproduction. The association between C. chasmodactylus and C. ingens is a mutualism, at least under environmental conditions in which crayfish survival and growth are enhanced by the worms.

Reproductive dependence of a branchiobdellidan annelid on its crayfish host: confirmation of a mutualism

in Crustaceana



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    Relationship between Cambarus chasmodactylus James, 1966 total carapace length and the number of Cambarincola ingens Hoffman, 1963 cocoons on crayfish collected from the Middle Fork of the New River, NC. The data were analysed using linear regression.

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    Distribution of Cambarincola ingens Hoffman, 1963 cocoons on the exoskeletons of Cambarus chasmodactylus James, 1966 collected from the Middle Fork (black bars, n=10) and on C. chasmodactylus from experiment 1 (grey bars, n=6). Bars represent mean percent ± 1 SE. Chelae refers to the first pair of walking legs with large claws. Walking legs refers to the 4 pairs of smaller legs. Carapace refers to dorsal and lateral locations on the carapace. ab stands for abdomen. All locations listed as ab seg 1&2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are on the ventral surface of these abdominal somites. ab dorsal refers to the entire dorsal surface of the abdomen. Telson refers to the dorsal and ventral surface of the telson and uropods. Gonopods refers to the modified pleopods on the male crayfish.

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    Mean (±1 SE) number of cocoons laid by Cambarincola ingens Hoffman, 1963 in each of the three treatments in experiment 1. Legends: Small, small Cambarus chasmodactylus James, 1966; Large, large C. chasmodactylus; Dish, worms cultured in glass dishes without a carapace. Data were analysed using analysis of variance followed by Tukey’s test. Bars with different letters are significantly different from each other.

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