Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 2, pp 381–390 | Cite as

Costs of exclusive male parental care in the sea spider Achelia simplissima (Arthropoda: Pycnogonida)

  • Zair P. BurrisEmail author
Original Paper


Sea spiders are one of the few marine invertebrates whose males care exclusively for offspring. The costs of parental care, however, have never been addressed for any species of pycnogonid. Costs may be significant for brooding sea spiders of Achelia simplissima, since males carry up to 12 egg masses simultaneously and actively aerate those eggs by moving their ovigerous legs back and forth. This study explored four potential costs to males as a result of parental care: predation, dislodgment, movement and feeding patterns, and frequency of epibionts. Brooding males were found to experience significantly higher frequencies of predator attacks and epibionts, as well as a lower rate of movement compared with nonbrooding males. Interestingly, brooding males were harder to dislodge than nonbrooding males and experienced no change in feeding frequency as a result of parental care. This is the first study to provide evidence that parental care may be costly for male pycnogonids in terms of individual survival and future reproductive success.


Parental Care Gravid Female Potential Predator Paternal Care Water Speed 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author would like to thank Joshua Lord, Svetlana Maslakova, Craig Young, Brian Bingham, and Alan Shanks for advice and editing suggestions. This study was supported by the National Science Foundation (GK-12 grant number DGE-0638731).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oregon Institute of Marine BiologyUniversity of OregonCharlestonUSA

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