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Co-occurrence of free-swimming and quiescent nauplii in a spring hatching of two Chirocephalus diaphanus Prévost, 1803 (Anostraca) populations from mountain pasture pools

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The anostracan, Chirocephalus diaphanus Prévost, 1803 presents variation in the timing of hatching, since embryos can fall free of the shell and remain in a quiescent state in a small cocoon formed by the hatching membrane. The co-occurrence of free-swimming and quiescent nauplii in a spring hatching was investigated by comparing the cyst behaviour of two local populations colonizing a short- and a long-lived mountain pool. In each pool, a constant number of ovigerous females was collected at the beginning and end of their life cycle. Immediately after deposition, the cysts were removed, counted, and subsequently stored in the laboratory for hatching tests. There were significant differences between the two biotopes in the frequency of pre-hatched nauplii. This confirms the ecological importance of the state of suspended development referred to as quiescence, suggesting that it plays a fundamental role in microevolutionary processes in Anostraca. La specie Chirocephalus diaphanus Prévost, 1803 (Anostraca) produce uova durature (cisti) caratterizzate da una spiccata variabilità di schiusa dovuta alla comparsa ed alla persistenza di embrioni che non schiudono immediatamente ma rimangono all'interno della membrana che li avvolge in uno stato di quiescenza. Tale meccanismo di schiusa ritardata è stato osservato in laboratorio confrontando la reattività delle cisti prodotte da due popolazioni naturali di C. diaphanus d'alta quota caratterizzate da un diverso ciclo idrologico. In ciascun bacino sono state raccolte le covate di un campione costante di femmine mature all'inizio ed al termine del loro ciclo vitale. Immediatamente dopo la deposizione, le cisti sono state raccolte, contate e successivamente sottoposte ai tests di schiusa. Le differenze statisticamente significative rilevate fra le percentuali di embrioni quiescenti osservate nei due biotopi confermano l'importanza adattativa delle prime fasi di schiusa. Le uova durature prodotte dai Crostacei Anostraci giocherebbero infatti un ruolo fondamentale nei processi microevolutivi delle popolazioni locali.

Affiliations: 1: CSPA, Università degli Studi di Trieste, Piazzale Europa 1, I-34127 Trieste, Italy; 2: Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell'Uomo, Università La Sapienza, Viale dell'Università 32, I-00185 Rome, Italy


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