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Larval Development of the Hermit Crab Diogenes Miles (Herbst, 1791) (Decapoda, Anomura, Diogenidae) in the Laboratory

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Hermit crabs are the commonest intertidal anomuran crustaceans. Diogenes miles (Herbst) is an inhabitant of surf-beaten sandy shores along coasts of peninsular India. This species is outstanding among other diogenid hermit crabs in having, unlike others, an extremely flat and broad body well adapted for its occurrence in long, narrow-mouthed gastropod shells mostly of Oliva and to lesser extent Gypraea and Conus. During the present study it was observed that, contrary to what was expected, D. miles docs not breed throughout the year but appears to have its breeding season restricted to the summer months. This was indicated by the collection of ovigerous females of the species only during the summer months near Bombay, Ratnagiri and Karwar along the Indian west coast. Eggs are minute, bright crimson to scarlet when immature and are easily shed, even with slight disturbance. Larval development consists of 3 zoeal and a megalopa stages, described in the present paper, after specimens reared in the laboratory. Some of the salient features of the zoea larvae are: a long, pointed rostrum, smooth carapace, usual triangular telson with process formula 7 + 7 in the first zoea but complete reduction of the 4th process in the third zoea. The megalopa has the typical unequal chelipeds, the left being larger, only 3 pairs of pleopods, and the telson is rectangularly rounded. Though the deep curve of the carpus develops right from the megalopa stage, the inward right-angled bend of the cheliped, so characteristic of the adult, is not fully developed even in the 5 subsequent instars.

Affiliations: 1: College of Fisheries, Konkan Agricultural University, Ratnagiri 415 612, Maharashtra State, India

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