Salinity tolerance and osmotic response of the estuarine hermit crab Pagurus maclaughlinae in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida.
Rhodes-Ondi, Sarah E.
Turner, Richard L.
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Pagurus maclaughlinae is the most common hermit in the Indian River Lagoon System. Wide variations in lagoonal salinity make it likely that P. maclaughlinae is euryhaline and that other hermit species in the area are more stenohaline, at least in some stages of their life histories. In a study of salinity tolerance, crabs were held unfed at salinities of 5–50 (25 control) for up to 30 d. Based on survivorship curves, P. maclaughlinae tolerated acute exposure to salinities of 10–45 for up to 18 d, and survivorship up to 30 d at 20–45 equaled or exceeded survivorship of the control. In a study of acclimation, the osmotic pressure of hemolymph was measured after crabs were held in the laboratory for 12, 48, and 96 h acutely exposed to salinities of 10–45. Paired t-tests revealed that the crabs weakly hyperregulated their hemolymph at 45–154 mOsmol above the external medium at all salinities and sampling times, and the osmotic differential of their hemolymph was fully acclimated by 96 h. In a third study, acclimatization of hemolymph was studied on crabs at 4 field sites that differed in their recent salinity histories. Field-collected crabs weakly regulated their hemolymph 72–84 mOsmol above the external medium at all sites sampled. Performance did not differ by site. The range of salinity tolerance and acclimation of hemolymph of P. maclaughlinae partly explain their wide distribution, and the consistent osmotic differential of its hemolymph indicates that the osmoregulatory ability of this small-bodied species is conserved in populations throughout the lagoon. Although some other larger-bodied hermit species in the region are euryhaline as adults, their tendency to hyperregulate strongly at low salinities possibly adds an energetic burden that, along with their less euryhaline long-lived larvae, might exclude them from the lagoon. Salinity tolerance of larval P. maclaughlinae has yet to be studied.