Marine Biology

, 165:37 | Cite as

Latitudinal variation in maternal investment traits of the kelp crab Taliepus dentatus along the coast of Chile

  • Simone Baldanzi
  • Daniela Storch
  • Sergio A. Navarrete
  • Martin Graeve
  • Miriam Fernández
Original paper


Maternal investment (MI), the energy allocated by mothers to offspring, has important effects on the life-history traits of marine organisms. Variation in such traits shows strong correlation with latitude for several marine taxa (Thorson’s rule). Large-scale latitudinal variation in MI within a single species suggests population genetic divergence, while temporal changes in MI, rather, reflect plasticity. At higher latitudes (i.e., colder waters), traits associated with MI (brood weight, fecundity, egg volume, and energy content) increase. To identify phenotypic plasticity along a latitudinal gradient in MI traits (brood weight, egg volume, density number, and egg lipid composition), five populations of the kelp crab Taliepus dentatus along the coast of Chile (30°S–42°S) were investigated during the summer (December–February) and winter months (June–August) of 2015–2016. Despite this wide latitudinal range, the sea surface temperature (SST) difference between the northernmost and the southernmost sites was only approximately 2.0 °C in winter and 5.5 °C in summer. In summer, when latitudinal variation in SST was highest, brood weight, egg density, fecundity, and egg lipids increased with latitude, while egg volume decreased. No trends in MI were observed in winter when the SST gradient was almost non-existent. These results suggest that the relationship between MI and latitude is shaped by temperature rather than being site-specific. The seasonality of latitudinal MI traits also suggests a trade-off between the costs of female maintenance and/or brooding behaviours and MI. When investigating latitudinal and temporal variation in marine brooder MI, the effect of temperature on life-history traits and the associated costs of female brooding should be quantified.



We thank Dr A. J. Brante (Universidad Católica de la Ssma Concepción, Chile), Dr M. L. Pardo (Universidad Austral, Chile), and several divers for their precious help during the field surveys. We thank Dieter Jenssen and Valeria Adrian (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany) for the lipid analysis. We are grateful to N. Osiadacz, Dr. N. Weidberg, Alexandra Tissot, and Katalin Plummer (Estación Costera de Investigaciones Marinas, Chile) for their valuable help in the laboratory, field, and manuscript editing. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their detailed revisions.

Compliance with ethical standards


This work was fully funded by Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (CONICYT) and Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico (FONDECYT POSTDOCTORADO), Grant number 3150020 assigned to SB. This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) in the framework of the priority programme “Antarctic research with comparative investigations in Arctic ice areas” by a Grant STO 857/2 to D. S. and by the Alexander von Humboldt foundation in the framework of its alumni programme “Research Group Linkage” to D. S. and M. F.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

227_2018_3294_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (352 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 352 kb)
227_2018_3294_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (151 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 150 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Estación Costera de Investigaciones Marinas and Núcleo Milenio Centro de Conservación MarinaLINCGlobal, Pontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Alfred Wegener InstituteHelmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Integrative EcophysiologyBremerhavenGermany
  3. 3.Alfred Wegener InstituteHelmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Chemical EcologyBremerhavenGermany

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