Laboratory observations of moulting, growth and maturation in Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba Dana)
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- Ikeda, T., Dixon, P. & Kirkwood, J. Polar Biol (1985) 4: 1. doi:10.1007/BF00286811
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Observations of intermoult period, growth and maturation were made on krill which were transported from Antarctic waters and maintained in the laboratory in Australia over a three year period. The mean intermoult period (IP) for each of 10 specimens, with initial body lengths of 24.7=46.8 mm, kept at -0.5° C varied from 22.0 to 29.8 days (overall mean = 26.6 days). These measurements of IP are significantly longer than those obtained in some previous studies. Differences in experimental temperatures, light, body sizes and growth patterns of the specimens between studies are unlikely to be causes of these dissimilar results. The pattern of changes in body length (BL) varies from one individual to the next. The greatest increase in BL over a series of 4–5 moults ranged from 0.024 to 0.070 mm/day, which is equivalent to 0.0020 to 0.0086/day in body weight, assuming exponential growth. This maximum growth rate is about half the rate predicted from the growth scheme of Mauchline (1980) for wild krill. Comparison of growth data for other euphausiids suggests that Mauchline's scheme produces anomalous growth rate. The slower growth rate observed in the present study would extend the estimated life span of krill from 3–4 years, as calculated by Mauchline (1980), to 4–7 years. If krill undergo body shrinkage during the Antarctic winter the estimated life span might be even longer. Examination of the external sexual characters of moults showed both progression and regression of maturity stage in association with changes in BL.