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Morphological anomalies in estuarine shrimp larvae

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For several years, major exoskeletal anomalies in two species of European estuarine shrimp of the genus Palaemon have been observed. The phenomenon has been described for P. longirostris and P. macrodactylus in the Gironde estuary (France) and affects all stages of the species’ life cycles: from juvenile to adult and in both wild and laboratory-reared individuals. In the present follow-up study, the effects of these anomalies in larval stages of the two species were investigated. Regular sampling across most of the saline estuary confirmed that the post-larval stages of both species were affected. The morphological anomalies (MA) observed in the larvae were of the same type as those described for the adult stages, although more limited and primarily affecting the rostrum and cephalothorax. Larvae were reared from hatching to the post-larval stage, and the appearance of the aforementioned anomalies was observed as early as in Zoea I. This was the case even in larvae whose mothers did not exhibit anomalies. For both species, the most advanced stage was the one most affected. Also, in the rearing experiment, a greater proportion of the P. macrodactylus larvae was affected than those of P. longirostris. No significant effects of MA on size or growth rate were demonstrated for larvae of either species in this study. Nevertheless, it provides data on larval growth that were not previously available. Further rearing experiments should be considered in order to explore any demonstrable effects of these morphological anomalies.

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