The knowledge of the mating system of pea crabs is still fragmentary as it remains dubious whether females copulate in the juvenile and free‐living ‘hard’ or in the obligatory symbiotic stages (adult stage ‘V’ or intermediate stages II to IV). To discriminate between these two possibilities, we analysed the female seminal receptacles, vagina and opercula, and the sperm content in different stages of the pea crab Calyptraeotheres garthi. Our histology and scanning electron microscopy results revealed that in the hard stage the seminal receptacle is simple without secretory epithelia, and vagina and opercula are not controlled by musculature. In stages II to IV, the seminal receptacles, vagina, and opercula are under development and these structures reach maturity in stage V. These results suggest that females become receptive in stage V and not during predating stages. We found no spermatozoa in SR of ‘hard’ and stage II to IV females while these structures were loaded of sperm in most stage V, indicating that females start to mate in stage V. Our results support the notion that males of C. garthi roam among hosts in search for sedentary stage V females, as predicted by Baeza and Thiel's () model of mating systems for symbiotic crustaceans. Nevertheless, we failed to reveal whether females mate repeatedly: the accumulation of sperm in larger females might indicate occurrence of multiple copula or a high variability in male sperm transfer.
Journal of Morphology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;
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