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The Functional Significance of Intersexes in the Intertidal Amphipod Corophium Volutator

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Abstract We investigated the functional significance of intersexuality in the amphipod Corophium volutator , a key species in soft-bottom intertidal communities. Intersexes in this species possess morphological and anatomical characters of both males and females. Two broad types of intersexes were identified: those with nonsetose oostegites and two penial papillae (Type I), and those with setose oostegites and one or two penial papillae (Type II). We found little evidence that intersexes function as females, but some females housed experimentally with intersexes became ovigerous, indicating that intersexes can function as males. Females that mated with Type II intersexes produced smaller broods than those that mated with Type I intersexes or males, suggesting that this form of intersexuality may be costly to amphipods (most Type II intersexes possessed only a single testis). Male function of intersexes may be important in populations of C. volutator because males are frequently the limiting sex due to extremely female-biased sex ratios.

Affiliations: 1: a (DGM, SPL, MTK) Biology Department, Albion College, 611 East Porter Street, Albion, Michigan, 49224 U.S.A, (;; ; 2: b (MRF, SM) Department of Biology, 209 Nesbitt Building, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1S 5B6 (; (corresponding author: DGM)


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