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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT The fairy shrimps Branchinecta gigas Lynch and Branchinecta mackini Dexter were found in association in four lakes in central Washington State and in one lake in British Columbia. Sodium and carbonate were the dominant ions in three lakes analyzed. In two of the lakes, they made up in mequivalence 90% of the total principal ions; and in one lake 75%. Sodium alone accounted for 44-47% mequiv. Individual lakes exhibited marked differences in osmolarities during the life-span of both congeneric species. The higher saline lake ranged from 130-461 mOsm/1 during the life-span of B. gigas and from 130-645 mOsm/1 for B. mackini. The lower salinity lake ranged from 6― 30 mOsm/1. Moreover, the lakes underwent marked differences in salinity levels from year to year. In the higher salinity lake during 1966 the salinity ranged from 130-624 mOsm/1, whereas in 1969 it never exceeded 150 mOsm/1, and in 1967 it never went below 340 mOsm/1. Therefore, an important environmental factor in astatic saline lake ecology is the magnitude of the osmotic changes from year to year as well as the seasonal osmotic changes. In waters less than 225 mOsm/1, B. gigas hyperosmoregulates, while at higher osmolarities it osmoconforms. Branchinecta mackini has a similar mode of osmoregulation, although it is a weaker hyperosmoregulator and can tolerate lower internal osmolarities. In addition, the tolerance to salinity of B. mackini appears to be higher than that of B. gigas. Branchinecta mackini was observed in waters as high as 645 mOsm/1 in nature, whereas the maximum observed for B. gigas was 485 mOsm/1. Therefore, the osmotic adaptation of B. gigas and B. mackini to saline astatic waters consists of hyperosmoregulation during the low salinity phase and tolerance by conforming during the higher salinity phase. This differs markedly from the pattern in Artemia and Parartemia, but is similar to Branchinecta campestris. Differences in adaptation of species of Branchinectidae to astatic waters appear to be in degree of tolerance to osmolarity and in differential adaptation to varying ionic compositions.


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