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ABSTRACT Comparative sperm morphology of several species of hermit crabs is investigated using light and electron microscope techniques. Relationships postulated on the basis of sperm ultrastructure are compared with previously proposed phylogenetic relationships. Within the superfamily Paguroidea, the families Coenobitidae, Diogenidae, and Paguridae are shown to be united by a suite of ultrastructural sperm characters. Each of these families can, however, be distinguished by characteristic features. The Coenobitidae have spermatozoa which possess a large cylindrical to oblong-ovoid acrosomal vesicle, a columnar perforatorial chamber which is not divided into posterior bulb and anterior projection, a subopercular zone divided into two regions, and lateral microvillar projections in the perforatorial chamber. The spermatozoon of the sole investigated pagurid Pagurus bernhardus (L.) has a short, ovoid acrosomal vesicle with a perforatorial chamber which is divided into posterior bulb and anterior projection, supposedly no operculum at maturity, and no microvillar projections in the posterior bulb of the perforatorial chamber. The anatomically diverse family Diogenidae exhibits a range in sperm morphology intermediate between the Paguridae and Coenobitidae, suggesting that it may be a polyphyletic family. Diogenidae share (except Dardanus) the perforatorial shape with the Paguridae and the possession of microvillar projections with the Coenobitidae. Diogenes custos (Fabricius) shares an elongate acrosome shape with the Coenobitidae, but is unique in having a fibrillar acrosome core. Three species of the diogenid genus Clibanarius are distinct in possessing a dense ring around the perforatorial bulb.

Affiliations: 1: Zoology Department, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4072.


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