Maternal care in the rockpool amphipod Apherusa jurinei: developmental and environmental cues

J.T.A. Dick, R.J.E. Bailey, Robert Elwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


There is evidence that active, pre-emergence maternal brood care in amphipod crustaceans may be associated with 'harsh' environmental conditions. We examined, in the rockpool amphipod Apherusa jurinei, behavioural activities that may function as a form of active brood care. Only ovigerous females showed 'curl' and 'stretch' activities, with consequent flushing of the brood pouch and cycling of the eggs therein. There was a significant decline in these activities as embryonic development advanced and brood care almost ceased when well-developed embryos showed a heart pulse and self-ventilation. We propose that this pattern of brood care reflects changes in the physiological requirements of embryos as they develop within the egg membrane. In addition, ovigerous females showed significantly higher levels of brood care under lowered oxygen conditions. They achieved this by increasing the average duration of the 'stretch' component, with other brood care components remaining constant. Thus, developmental and environmental cues alter the components of active brood care in distinct ways. Experimental removal showed that the physical presence of eggs in the brood pouch is important in controlling the expression of brood care activities. However, females with all of their eggs removed continued to brood at low levels, suggesting that a maternal state also controls brood care. The sophisticated expression of active maternal brood care in amphipods under 'harsh' environmental conditions such as rockpools has implications both for individual reproductive success and the distribution and abundance of brooding versus nonbrooding species. (C) 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd on behalf of The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-713
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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