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VARIATION AMONG NATURAL POPULATIONS OF TALITRUS SALTATOR (AMPHIPODA): MORPHOMETRIC ANALYSIS

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The talitrid amphipod Talitrus saltator has a wide distribution along European Atlantic and Mediterranean sandy shores. Previous research had estimated genetic differences among populations with iso-enzyme electrophoresis, as well as differences in behavioural adaptation related to ecological features. In this study morphometric differences among four Mediterranean (Italian coasts) and three Atlantic (Portuguese and Welsh coasts) populations were estimated, which may give information on population dynamics and adaptability to environmental constraints. The localities chosen differed with regard to the following characteristics: sheltered/exposed shorelines, tidal/non-tidal shores, presence/absence of detritus, Atlantic/Mediterranean climate, high/low human frequentation. Samples of each population were collected in a standardized way and fresh individuals were weighed, their body lengths and eye diameters were measured, and the number of eggs in the female brood-pouches and the articles of each antenna were counted. The results were as follows: (i) an unbalanced sex ratio in each population studied, females being more abundant than males; (ii) significant differences between Mediterranean and Atlantic population groups as to weight and body length distributions, the Atlantic talitrids being larger than the Mediterranean ones; (iii) differences in eye colour, normally black in this species, but one Mediterranean and two Atlantic populations presented a certain proportion of blue-eyed individuals; (iv) right-left asymmetry of eye surface areas (right eye bigger than left one) in all populations, with one exception. The differences found among populations do not seem to follow a geographic cline, but could depend on ecological features of the localities.

L'amphipode talitride Talitrus saltator a une large distribution le long des cotes sableuses de l'Atlantique europeen et de la Mediterranee. Des recherches anterieures ont evalue les differences genetiques parmi les populations par electrophorese iso-enzymatique, ainsi que les differences de comportement adaptatif en relation avec les facteurs de l'environnement. Dans cette etude, les differences morphometriques parmi quatre populations mediterraneennes (cotes italiennes) et trois populations atlantiques (cotes portugaises et galoises) ont ete evaluees, ce qui peut donner des informations sur les dynamiques de population et sur l'adaptabilite aux contraintes de l'environnement. Les localites choisies different en ce qui concerne les caracteristiques suivantes: lignes cotieres abritees/exposees, cotes a maree ou non, presence/absence de detritus, climat atlantique/mediterraneen, haute/basse frequentation humaine. Les echantillons de chaque population ont ete preleves suivant un meme standard et les individus frais ont ete peses, la longueur du corps et le diametre de l'oeil mesures, le nombre d'oeufs dans la poche incubatrice et les articles de chaque antenne comptes. Les resultats ont ete les suivants: (i) une sex ratio non equilibree dans toutes les populations etudiees, les femelles etant plus nombreuses que les males; (ii) des differences significatives entre les groupes de populations atlantiques et mediterraneens, quant a la distribution des poids et des longueurs du corps, les individus atlantiques etant plus grands que les mediterraneens; (iii) des differences dans la couleur de l'oeil, normalement noir chez cette espece, mais une population de l'Atlantique et deux de Mediterranee presentaient une certaine proportion d'individus a yeux bleus; (iv) une asymetrie droite-gauche de la surface de l'oeil (oeil droit plus gros que le gauche) dans toutes les populations, avec une exception. Les differences observees entre les populations ne semblent pas suivre un gradient geographique, mais pourraient dependre des caracteristiques ecologiques des localites.

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