, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 111-119

On living in cold water: K-strategies in antarctic benthos

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Abstract

Comparison of the life-histories of two species pairs of caridean decapods, each pair containing a polar and a more temperate-water species (Chorismus antarcticus (Pfeffer, 1887)/Pandalus montagui Leach, 1814 and Notocrangon antarcticus (Pfeffer, 1887)/ crangon crangon (Linnaeus, 1758), suggested that in each case the polar species was more of a K-strategist than was the temperate species. In particular there were striking differences in brood size, egg weight and maturity of the newly hatched larvae. Measurements of individual annual reproductive effort, RE, as g fresh weight eggs per g fresh weight female indicated that in both species pairs the RE of the polar K-strategist was significantly less than that of the comparable temperate water r-strategist. Results expressing RE as g total egg lipid per g fresh weight female were equivocal. These data are discussed in relation to available autecological information for Anterctic marine invertebrates and it is concluded that many features of the polar benthos are explicable in terms of a general evolution of typical K-strategies. The role of low temperature in the widespread evolution of K-strategies may be crucial; consideration of this leads to a re-appraisal of “cold-adaptation”.

Communicated by J. Mauchline, Oban