Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Tradeoffs and benefits explain scaling, sex differences, and seasonal oscillations in the remarkable weapons of snapping shrimp (Alpheus spp.)

Citation

Dinh, Jason; Patek, S. N. (2022), Tradeoffs and benefits explain scaling, sex differences, and seasonal oscillations in the remarkable weapons of snapping shrimp (Alpheus spp.), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.qz612jmkf

Abstract

Evolutionary theory suggests that individuals should express costly traits at a magnitude that optimizes the cost-benefit ratio for the trait-bearer. Trait expression varies across a species because costs and benefits vary among individuals. For example, if large individuals pay lower costs than small individuals, then larger individuals should reach optimal cost-benefit ratios at a greater magnitude of trait expression. Using the remarkable cavitation-shooting weapons found in the big claws of male and female alpheid snapping shrimp, we test whether size- and sex-dependent expenditures explain the scaling of weapon size relative to body size and why males have larger proportional weapon size than females. We found that males and females from three snapping shrimp species (Alpheus heterochaelis, Alpheus angulosus, and Alpheus estuariensis) exhibit resource allocation tradeoffs between weapon and abdomen mass. For male A. heterochaelis, the species for which we had the greatest sample size and statistical power, the smallest individuals showed the steepest tradeoff. Our extensive dataset in A. heterochaelis also included data about pairing, breeding season, and egg clutch size. Therefore, we could test for reproductive tradeoffs and benefits in this species. Female A. heterochaelis exhibited additional tradeoffs between weapon size and egg count, average egg volume, and total egg mass volume. For average egg volume, the smallest females exhibited the steepest tradeoff relative to weapon size. Furthermore, for both sexes, large weapons were positively correlated with the relative size of their pair mate; however, for males only, large weapons were positively correlated with being paired in the first place. In conclusion, we establish that size-dependent tradeoffs underlie reliable scaling relationships of costly traits. Furthermore, we show that males and females differ in weapon investment, suggesting that weapons are especially beneficial to males and especially burdensome to females.

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS 2019323

Duke University, Award: Biology Department: Grant-in-Aid of Research