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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT The deposition of endocuticle by postmolt Gammarus oceanicus Segerstråle maintained in either 10% or 100% seawater was examined at intervals for 12 days following ecdysis. After an initial inhibition or slowing of cuticle formation when the animals were transferred to 10% seawater, the frequency of lamella formation was similar in both experimental groups. Dilution of the external medium was also without persistent effect on the rate of increase in endocuticle thickness during the period of observation. Although crustacean osmoregulation is a topic of sustained interest, little attention has been given to the effects of salinity change on the molt cycle. The few data available suggest that molting in euryhaline forms is relatively insensitive to salinity change. For example, the molt frequency of the amphipod Corophium volutator varies only slightly over a wide range of salinities, decreasing only at extremely low and high salinities (McLusky, 1967). Moreover, Haefner and Schuster (1964) maintained female Callinectes sapidus, collected from one locality, at three salinity ranges and could not detect any significant differences between the postmolt increases in linear dimensions of individuals in the three groups. However, the possibility that salinity changes during proecdysis and postmolt might compromise an animal's ability to produce a new cuticle has not yet been considered. Disruptions of amino acid metabolism and distribution in salinity-stressed marine invertebrates have been documented frequently (Gilles, 1979). Such disruptions, imposed on a crustacean epidermis undergoing striking changes in rates of protein synthesis, correlated with progress through the molt cycle (Stevenson, 1972), might be reflected in the rate of cuticle deposition. This possibility is investigated in Gammarus oceanicus, an abundant marine littoral amphipod often found in regions of the shore subject to freshwater run-off. A description is given of some of the effects of diluted seawater on endocuticle deposition by G. oceanicus placed in this medium following ecdysis.

Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, University of New Brunswick, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada E2L 4L5.


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