Maternal investment in egg production: environmental and population-specific effects on offspring performance in the snapping shrimp Alpheus nuttingi (Schmitt, 1924) (Decapoda, Alpheidae)
Among marine invertebrates, the overall biomass invested in egg production varies widely within populations, which can result from the interaction of endogenous and exogenous factors. Species that have constant reproduction throughout the year can be good models to study the influence of environmental factors on reproductive processes. We conducted a seasonal comparison of egg production in the intertidal snapping shrimp Alpheus nuttingi, which shows a continuous reproductive pattern, to examine the hypothesis that differences in egg production are driven by environmental conditions and population features. This population showed an uncommon strategy, characterized by females that produce eggs of varying sizes within their clutches, with reduced egg volume when the number of eggs is higher (Spring-Summer). In these seasons, higher temperatures and greater food availability may allow the production of more eggs compared to the Autumn-Winter seasons. Compared to other alpheid shrimps, this population produces small eggs, but in larger numbers. Despite the higher fecundity, the reproductive output is relatively low, this production being supported by the large size of females from the southern Atlantic region. Our findings showed that the egg production of A. nuttingi was greatly influenced by environmental factors. Therefore, this shrimp, and probably other decapods that possess continuous reproduction, adopt different reproductive strategies during the year.