, Volume 462, Issue 1–3, pp 145–156 | Cite as

Life history strategy of Chirocephalus ruffoi (Crustacea, Anostraca) in Mediterranean temporary mountain pools

  • Graziella Mura


Some temporary pools in the Pollino National Park (1780–1900 m a.s.l) are inhabited by Chirocephalus ruffoi Cottarelli & Mura, 1984, an endemic Italian anostracan. These pools predictably fill by snowmelting in spring, but the timing and the duration of their flooding is unpredictable. Depending on climate, in some years, they also erratically fill by unpredictable rainfall in autumn. Field monitoring and continuous temperature data recordings were performed, in order to define habitat characteristics and related adaptive strategies of the resident population.

The life cycle of C. ruffoi begins in late spring after snow melt and is strongly affected by temperature regime and pool duration. Significant differences (F = 4.62, P < 0.01, df = 1) in growth rate and maturation were found between pools P1 (or P3) and P4, differing in size, position and hydrological regime. Growth and maturation were faster in P1 (or P3) than in the longer lasting, colder P4. Differences were also recorded between years, within a pool, due to climatic conditions; 1998 was characterized by higher rainfall, lower temperatures (particularly from March on), and consequently the water phase lasted longer than in 1997.

Hatching occurred as soon as mean water temperature attains 4–5 °C and starts fluctuating. The extent of initial hatching could not be assessed in the field, but was low in the laboratory (cumulative hatching percentage < 30% over three hatching cycles) suggesting a risk spreading strategy in relation to habitat uncertainty, as in other anostracans in unpredictable environments. The same explanation appears to apply to the sex ratio, which was constantly and markedly female-biased, probably to maximize reproductive output.

Unlike previously assumed, C. ruffoi is a eurythermic species. The adults can survive temperature values of 32 °C and higher and are exposed during their lives to a wide temperature range (2–5 °C / 40 °C) and to diurnal fluctuations as wide as 21 degrees. Multiple regression analysis showed that temperature was the most influential among the environmental variables supposed to affect anostracan life cycle.

Chirocephalus ruffoi life history habitat characteristics 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graziella Mura
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell'UomoRomaItaly

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