Temporal genetic homogeneity among shore crab (Carcinus maenas) larval events supplied to an estuarine system on the Portuguese northwest coast

C P Domingues, S Creer, M I Taylor, H Queiroga, G R Carvalho

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the importance of larval biology in the life histories of many marine animals, relatively little information exists on the dynamics and genetic composition of larval cohorts. The supply of megalopae larvae of the shore crab, Carcinus maenas, was measured on a daily basis during 8 months spread along two larval periods (2006 and 2007) at the Ria de Aveiro estuary, on the Portuguese northwest coast. A total of 10 microsatellite DNA loci were employed to explore the genetic structure, variability and relatedness of temporally distinct megalopal events, selected from the major pulses of supply. Larval variation was also compared genetically with that of a previously studied adult crabs sample, at the same loci, collected in 2006 and 2007 along the Iberian Peninsula. Results revealed a lack of genetic differentiation and identical diversity levels among larval events over time. No evidence of reduced genetic diversity between megalopae relative to the diversity assessed from the pooled sample of adults was found. Moreover, there was no evidence of any family relatedness among larvae from temporal events. The results obtained for C. maenas contradict predictions made by the sweepstakes reproduction hypothesis, in which large variance in reproductive success is expected, which is presumably detectable as sharp genetic discontinuities among separate larval events. Data here indicate conversely a high degree of temporal genetic stability among larval supply to a given estuary under variable oceanographic conditions, consistent with the hypothesis that sampled larvae were drawn from a large number of adults that do not differ in reproductive success.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)832-840
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011


  • reproductive success
  • relatedness
  • temporal genetic structure
  • larval dispersal
  • Carcinus maenas
  • microsatellite DNA

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