The costs of intersexuality: a crustacean perspective

Alex Ford, T. Fernandes, P. Read, C. Robinson, I. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing concerns over rising intersexuality in the animal kingdom and the ability of certain chemicals to disrupt the endocrine system have demanded a better understanding of the costs associated with such conditions. Whilst intersexuality appears relatively widespread throughout gonochoristic crustaceans, i.e. those crustacean species with two separate sexes, the fitness costs have rarely been reported. Through comparable investigation of normal and intersex specimens of the highly abundant marine/estuarine amphipod Echinogammarus marinus (Leach) these fitness costs were determined. Measurements taken to assess fitness costs included fecundity, fertility and embryonic development, maturation period, and any morphological deformities that might result in reduced pairing success. Results from this study suggest that intersex E. marinus suffer from reduced fecundity and fertility, and mature at a larger size than normal specimens. These fitness costs can also, to a certain extent, be related to the degree of intersexuality. It is suggested that the increased size and morphological abnormalities observed in intersexes may result in reduced pairing success. Investigations into intersex organisms, i.e. those organisms with known dysfunctional endocrine systems, and the costs associated with such conditions, should aid researchers in assessing effects at the population and community level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951-957
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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