Reptant decapod crustaceans are almost absent from the Southern Ocean south of the Antarctic Convergence. We tested the hypothesis that this may be due to the reduced ability of this group to regulate Mg(2+) levels in the haemolymph ([Mg(2+)](HL)). Mg(2+) acts as an anaesthetic in marine invertebrates and its level is higher in Reptantia (crabs such as Cancer spp., Chionoecetes spp., Maja spp., 30–50 mmol l(−)(1)) than in Natantia (prawns such as Pandalus spp., Palaemon spp., Crangon spp., 5–12 mmol l(−)(1)). We varied [Mg(2+)](HL) in three species of reptant decapod crustaceans, Carcinus maenas, Hyas araneus and Eurypodius latreillei, and investigated heart rate, the rate of oxygen consumption and levels of spontaneous and forced activity at different temperatures. The rate of oxygen consumption and heart rate increased significantly with reduction in [Mg(2+)](HL) over the entire temperature range investigated in E. latreillei. In H. araneus, an increase in metabolic and heart rates compared with control values was found only at temperatures below 2 degrees C. Forced and spontaneous activity levels increased significantly in the group of [Mg(2+)](HL)-reduced animals below 0 degrees C, at which control animals were mostly inactive. At a reduced [Mg(2+)](HL) of 5–12 mmol l(−)(1), which is the [Mg(2+)](HL) of caridean shrimps in the Southern Ocean, Q(10) and activation energy were reduced for all these variables and extended the temperature range over which physiological functions were maintained. We suggest that the high [Mg(2+)](HL) in Reptantia causes relaxation of the animals and reduces their scope for activity, especially at temperatures below 0 degrees C. The hypothesis that the synergistic effects of high [Mg(2+)](HL) and low temperature probably prevented the Reptantia from recolonizing the permanently cold water of polar areas is discussed.
Haemolymph Mg(2+) regulation in decapod crustaceans: physiological correlates and ecological consequences in polar areas
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M. Frederich, F.J. Sartoris, W.E. Arntz, H. Portner; Haemolymph Mg(2+) regulation in decapod crustaceans: physiological correlates and ecological consequences in polar areas. J Exp Biol 15 April 2000; 203 (8): 1383–1393. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.203.8.1383
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