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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT Morphometric analyses were made of males of 3 caprellid species collected from sites exposed to and protected from wave activity. The species-specific differences in robustness of the gnathopods, robustness of the posterior pereiopods, and elongation of the second pereionite were related to food acquisition. Filter-feeding caprellids (Caprella equilibra Say and C. penantis Leach) exhibited an increase in the robustness of the second gnathopods and a general decrease in the size of the posterior pereiopods at the wave-exposed site. The predatory caprellid (Paracaprella tenuis Mayer) had the opposite pattern. Pereionite 2 of C. equilibra was more elongate among specimens from the protected site. All 3 species exhibited a reduction in the length of pereiopod 5, relative to pereionite 5 length, at the wave-exposed site. The findings indicate environmentally related morphological plasticity for the pereionites and pereiopods of caprellids. The reliability of using body proportions and pereiopod reductions for taxonomic purposes is questionable. Similarly, the measurement of a single body segment to indicate caprellid size probably is inaccurate.


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