Journal Article

Forty-year natural history study of Bahalana geracei Carpenter, 1981, an anchialine cave-dwelling isopod (Crustacea, Isopoda, Cirolanidae) from San Salvador Island, Bahamas: reproduction, growth, longevity, and population structure

Carpenter, J.H.

Record Number:
5237
Year:
2021
Journal:
Subterranean Biology
Pages:
105-156
Volume:
37
Abstract:
Almost nothing has been reported on the natural history of any of the world’s 92 species of cave cirolanids, including those from saltwater caves (anchialine). Over 1400 specimens of Bahalana geracei Carpenter, 1981 were collected in two caves from 1978–2018; size-frequency data provided insight into population structure. Some specimens were maintained alive over multiple years to study rarely reported activities for cave cirolanids: feeding, molting, growth, longevity, and reproduction. Photographs document these phenomena. Mating occurred after gravid females shed both halves of reproductive molts. Females can have multiple broods (iteroparous) with ~2.0–3.5 years per reproductive cycle: egg production (~9–24 months), mating, brooding (5–6 months), release of 6–55 mancas (2.3–3.3 mm long), and oostegite molt (~2–13 months after manca release). Estimated lifetime fecundity is 58 mancas per female; probable range is 20–120. In Lighthouse Cave, females outnumbered males (~4:1), grew larger (16.8 vs. 9.5 mm), and lived longer. Growth rates were slow: ~1–2 years for three instars of post-marsupial manca development (from ~2.3–4.0 mm); estimated adult growth rate was 0.8 mm/year (1.6 molts/year) for males, and 0.5 mm/year (1.5 molts/year) for females. Longevity estimates for females are 25–28 years with 23–30 instars, vs. 6–8 years for males with 13–15 instars. Males from Major’s Cave were nearly as numerous and as large (14.8 mm) as females; estimated longevity for males is >20 years. Longevity estimates of >20 years appear to be the longest for any isopod species. Female longevity probably increased by being starvation resistant, surviving multiple broods, cannibalizing smaller B. geracei, and living in a low-stress environment. Populations appear to be stable, relatively large, and not currently threatened. Keywords Age compression, cannibalism, fecundity, gestation, iteroparous, mancas, molting, starvation resistance, stygobitic
Times Cited:
2
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