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Marine Biology

, Volume 111, Issue 1, pp 81–86 | Cite as

Population structure and sex-change in the coral-inhabiting snailCoralliophila violacea at Hsiao-Liuchiu, Taiwan

  • K. Soong
  • J. -L. Chen
Article

Abstract

Surveys of the coral-inhabiting snailCoralliophila violacea (Lamarck) (=C. neritoidea Kiener) were made on shallow fringing reefs (<8 m deep) around Hsiao-Liuchiu, Taiwan, between July and October 1990. The snails were aggregated into patches on the surface of massive poritid coral colonies. Coral colonies >40 cm in diameter were more likely to bear patches of snails than smaller colonies, and also to have more snails. The coralliophilids ranged from 5 to 30 mm in aperture length. The sex ratio of the population was biased toward males (539:279), with only a few small individuals of indistinguishable sex. Snails between 6 and 10 mm were all males, while most snails with aperture lengths ≥20 mm were females. Judging from the distinct size ranges of males and females within patches and from the observed degeneration of the penis, the snails may have changed sex from male to female with increasing size. Sex-change may occur across a wide size range (10 to 20 mm). The correlation of smallest female size and largest male size among patches indicates that snail size at sex-change is peculiar to each individual patch. Those females in patches with a single female (but many males) were significantly smaller than females in multiple-female patches. It is likely that in the absence of females males change sex at a smaller size, whereas in the presence of large females males delay sexchange until they have reached a larger size. The plasticity of size at sex-change may be adaptive and a result of natural selection at the individual level.

Keywords

Small Individual Small Coloni Coral Coloni Large Female Female Male 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Soong
    • 1
  • J. -L. Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Marine BiologyNational Sun Yat-sen UniversityKaohsiungTaiwan, Republic of China

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