, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 567-577

Shell shape variation in the Nassariid Buccinanops globulosus in northern Patagonia

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Morphological variation among natural populations is a phenomenon commonly observed in marine invertebrates and well studied, particularly, in shelled gastropods. The nassariid Buccinanops globulosus is interesting to study shell shape variation because it exhibits strong interpopulation differences in life history features, including maximum size, fecundity and growth rate. In this study, we examined the pattern of variation in size and shell shape among populations and between sexes of B. globulosus (Bahía San Antonio 40°29′S 63°01′W, Playa Villarino 40°45′S 64°40′W and Bahía Nueva 42°46′S 65°02′W). In particular, we used geometric morphometric techniques to test: (1) whether the two components of shell morphology (size and shape) are independent and (2) whether shape differences between sexes are consistently found among populations, regardless of their body sizes. Our results show shell shape variation between the populations of B. globulosus of northern Patagonia. Intra-specific shell shape variation is affected by body size, indicating allometry. Regardless of the size differences, individuals from Playa Villarino have high-spired shells, and shorter apertures and wider columellar area than individuals from the other populations. Also, sex-related shape differences were consistently found at each population, thus suggesting a common sexual dimorphism in shell morphology for this species. The functional significance of the variability found is discussed in terms of the flexibility of developmental programmes for morphology as well as the evolution of phenotypic plasticity.

Communicated by Franke.