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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT Polygonal patterns on the surface of epimeral plates of adult Gammarus oceanicus were compared in matched areas of exuvial and postmolt cuticle samples. The patterns, which record dimensions and locations of epidermal cells at premolt, were used to analyze shape and size distributions, shape and location changes during premolt, and the relative abundances of dividing cells. The degree of similarity of epidermal cell shape and location between exuvial and postmolt samples is very close, particularly in regions that lack dividing cells. It is hypothesized that conservation of shape and location originates from a sustained attachment of epidermis to cuticle throughout an intermolt of several weeks. Incidences of cell division were relatively consistent within multiple samples from individual animals and ranged from 0-24% between animals. However, cell division might be underestimated because of cell loss, which was evident directly, by pattern matching, or indirectly, by unchanged cell numbers, in identical sample pairs in which cell division was seen to have occurred.


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