Collin, Rachel and Spangler, Abby. 2012. "Impacts of Adelphophagic Development on Variation in Offspring Size, Duration of Development, and Temperature-Mediated Plasticity." Biological Bulletin 223 (3):268-277.
Adelphophagic development, where embryos consume sibling embryos or nurse eggs, is particularly common in marine caenogastropods and some families of polychaetes. When exogenous nutrition is provided before hatching, egg size and hatching size can be uncoupled, but advantages and constraints of adelphophagic development compared to development from large eggs are unknown. Here we examine temperature-mediated plasticity in offspring size, brooding duration, and fecundity in the adelphophagic marine gastropod Crepidula cf. onyx. We use these data combined with previously published data on two planktotrophic Crepidula and two Crepidula species that develop from large eggs to test hypotheses about the consequences of adelphophagic development and patterns of variation in offspring size. In Crepidula cf. onyx, egg size shows no significant effect of temperature. Hatching size is significantly larger at 28 °C than at 23 °C but proceeds from fewer eggs per capsule at 28 °C. Hatching size is therefore decoupled from both egg size and the number of eggs per capsule. Although development is faster at the higher temperature, broods are produced roughly every 26-27 days at both temperatures. Increased rate of development has been cited as a potential advantage of adelphophagic development in muricids, but the adelphophagic C. cf. onyx did not develop more quickly than C. atrasolea or C. ustulatulina, species that produce similarly sized hatchlings from large eggs. Comparisons across calyptraeid species support the role of adelphophagy in increasing variance in offspring size. This increased variability is primarily expressed within broods or among broods from the same female, not among females.