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Breeding systems in the clam shrimp family Limnadiidae (Branchiopoda, Spinicaudata)

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Crustaceans in the class Branchiopoda exhibit a wide range of breeding systems, including dioecy (gonochorism), androdioecy, parthenogenesis, cyclic parthenogenesis, and hermaphroditism. The largest subgroup of the Branchiopods, the Diplostraca, is reported to encompass all five of these breeding systems. However, many of these reports are based primarily on simple observations of sex ratios in natural populations. Herein we report the beginnings of a more rigorous approach to breeding system determination in the Diplostraca, starting with the family Limnadiidae. We combine measurements of sex ratio, offspring rearings, and behavior to identify three breeding systems within the Limnadiidae: dioecy, androdioecy, and selfing hermaphroditism. To date, no instances of parthenogenetic reproduction have been identified in this family. Comparisons of breeding system determination via simple population sex ratios with our more controlled studies show that simple sex ratios can be useful when these sex ratios are ∼50% males (=dioecy) or 5–30% males (androdioecy). However, population sex ratios of 0–5% males or 35–45% males necessitate further investigation because estimates in these ranges cannot distinguish selfing hermaphroditism from androdioecy or androdioecy from dioecy, respectively. We conclude by noting that the genetic sex-determining system outlined for one of these limnadiid species, Eulimnadia texana, provides a parsimonious framework to describe the evolution of the three breeding systems observed within the Limnadiidae.

Keywords: androdioecy; mating systems; selfing hermaphroditism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, The University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325-3908, USA 2: Department of Animal Biology, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, W.A. 6009, Australia

Publication date: June 1, 2008


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