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Eco-morphological consequences of the ‘rostral loss’ in the intertidal marine shrimp Hippolyte sapphica morphotypes

  • Roman Liasko (a1), Chryssa Anastasiadou (a2) and Alexandros Ntakis (a1)

The shrimp Hippolyte sapphica has a unique and sharp rostral dimorphism: morphotype A with a well-developed dentate rostrum, and morphotype B with a short, juvenile-like toothless rostrum. Previous research has shown that both morphotypes/forms belong to the same species and co-occur in the same habitat. Both forms occur in both sexes; however, form B individuals have a higher tendency to become males. Moreover, form A females are characterized by prolonged viability. The present comparative morphometric study concentrates on the changes induced by the rostral dimorphism and interprets them in terms of eco-morphological adaptations. Results showed that (i) the rostral length was the most isometric among the studied morphometric variables; (ii) males of A and B forms were not significantly different morphometrically; (iii) unexpectedly, form A non-ovigerous females had more developed carapace, abdominal somites and appendages in comparison with form B and, finally (iv), form B ovigerous females had higher tail and scaphocerite lengths, suggesting that they overcome higher turbulent force during the rapid backward movements and that the long rostrum improves hydrodynamic streamlining and stability. In conclusion, the previous finding that form B individuals tend to become males receives an adaptational explanation. The gene(s) responsible for the short rostrum accumulate in males, where their micro-evolutionary disadvantage is minimal or even absent.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: R. Liasko, Laboratory of Zoology, Department of Biological Applications & Technology, University of Ioannina, University Campus, Ioannina, 45110, Greece email:
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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
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  • EISSN: 1469-7769
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