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Does Asellus aquaticus change its pigmentation when given different types of food?
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10,5 credits / 16 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

When an animal’s pigmentation matches the background across various types of environments, it is potentially an example of cryptic pigmentation, most likely as a response to natural selection by visually oriented predators. One example of cryptic pigmentation is phenotypic plasticity, meaning that an organism can exhibit different phenotypes in different environments. The freshwater isopod Asellus aquaticusliving in stands of reeds tends to have darker pigmentation than individuals living amongst lighter-coloured stoneworts, which has been suggested to result from visual predation. A recent study showed, however, that pigmentation in A. aquaticus is partly plastic, influenced by the nutritional composition in their diet. Here, I performed a laboratory experiment on A. aquaticusto see if the nutritional composition in stoneworts decreases pigmentation. Isopods were provided with a diet of either decaying leaves or stoneworts. The experiment took place over four weeks and pigmentation and growth were analysed at 0, 15 and 31 days. I found that pigmentation in A. aquaticusincreased significantly on both diets. And, there was no difference between both diets in amount of change in pigmentation. The fact that isopods that were feeding on stoneworts did not become lighter to match their background colour preferably depend on a high nutritional composition in the provided food, considering they also more than doubled their weight. In other words, phenotypic plasticity due to different diets between habitats is not the explanation to lighter coloured isopods living amongst stoneworts. However, these results do not exclude that differences can arise over a longer time or differs between different species of stoneworts. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 16
Keywords [en]
Asellus aquaticus, pigmentation, growth, phenotypic plasticity, stoneworts, decaying terrestrial leaves
National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-159762ISRN: LITH-IFM-G-EX--19/3706--SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-159762DiVA, id: diva2:1344171
Subject / course
Biology
Presentation
2019-05-29, 13:17
Supervisors
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Available from: 2019-08-20 Created: 2019-08-20 Last updated: 2019-08-20Bibliographically approved

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