A comparative analysis of sperm storage in six brachyuran superfamilies: mating behavior, ecological variation and phylogenetic patterns
Rodgers, Paula Jane
Reaka, Marjorie L
Hines, Anson H
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While life history traits are shaped by allometric, phylogenetic, environmental and behavioral factors, few comparative studies of brachyuran life history patterns have considered sperm storage traits as important components of reproductive strategies. To understand the evolutionary forces selecting for sperm storage and their interactions with other life history traits, I (1) used controlled laboratory experiments and field mating observations to examine variation in male sperm transfer patterns, (2) sampled variation in female reproductive output and sperm storage for two species across a latitudinal gradient, (3) conducted a survey of life history traits across a broad range of brachyuran taxa, and (4) used phylogenetic analyses to identify patterns in the evolution of life history traits in brachyurans. From mating experiments and observations on five species, I found that males transfer more sperm with longer than shorter copulation durations and that variation in copulation duration was shaped by differences in the species' ecologies. Latitudinal surveys of two species with contrasting mating systems identified seasonal and geographical variation in female reproductive output. While the variation in most reproductive traits could best be explained at smaller spatial scales, a sperm storing species, <italic> Callinectes sapidus </italic> became sperm limited at low latitudes. From a comparative survey of male and female life history traits across 61 species of brachyurans, I found that allometry, phylogeny and mating strategies explained much of the variation in life history traits. Using rigorous phylogenetic techniques, male life history traits showed more plasticity across the phylogeny than female traits suggesting male traits may be influenced more by behavioral and environmental factors. After correcting for phylogenetic signals, species with larger male sperm stores had larger amounts of sperm stored by the female. In summary this dissertation illustrates the importance of partitioning variation in mating behavior, phylogeny, environmental factors and allometry when examining the evolution of life history traits in brachyurans.