Direct Development and Posthatching Brood Care as Key Features of the Evolution of Freshwater Decapoda and Challenges for Conservation

  • Günter VogtEmail author


Direct development and posthatching brood care are among the key evolutionary adaptations of decapod crustaceans to life in fresh water. Direct development is obligatory in aeglid anomurans, primary freshwater crabs, and freshwater crayfish. It also occurs in some species of secondary freshwater crabs and freshwater shrimps. Posthatching brood care is the rule in aeglids, primary freshwater crabs, and crayfish, infrequent in secondary freshwater crabs, and rare in freshwater shrimps. Extended brood care is most intense in crayfish where it includes the attachment of hatchlings by a safety line, and specific behaviours of the mother and her offspring. Direct development and posthatching brood care are associated with reduced dispersal and reduced gene flow among populations, which may explain the high degree of endemism and speciation in freshwater decapods. Due to the reduced dispersal and recolonization abilities aeglids, primary freshwater crabs, and crayfish that live in stressed freshwater habitats may face a higher threat of extinction than do species of amphidromous shrimps and crabs that can undergo long-distance migrations.


Freshwater Decapoda Direct development Posthatching brood care Evolutionary adaptation Speciation Endemism Conservation 



The author is grateful to the following colleagues for providing photos as indicated in the figure legends: Sérgio L.S. Bueno, Ludwig Buckup, Tim Burton, Jose A. Cuesta, Rudolf Diesel, Murathan Kilic, Oliver Mengedoht, Juliana C.B. Moraes, Monika Rademacher and Choy Heng Wah. Many thanks also to Neil Cumberlidge for correcting the English and Tadashi Kawai for editorial work.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of BiosciencesUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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