Crypsis in early benthic phases of Brachyuran Decapod Crustaceans in central Chile
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Although common and in some cases of commercial value, little is known about the mechanisms and processes that affect the distribution and abundance of many species of decapod crustaceans, particularly in Chile. All of these species have planktonic larvae that must settle and recruit before becoming part of the adult segments of their populations. For several of these species we have detected the presence of a variety of color morphs in newly settled individuals. The existence of these morphs in Chilean species is comparable with those observed in other latitudes (e.g., coast of the Gulf of Maine). On the other hand, it is characteristic that the occurrence of these patterns only appears during the early juvenile stages and that after reaching a certain size it disappears, with adults being typically monochromatic. The expression of this pattern in the Chilean subtidal seems to be more pronounced in detritivorous species than in carnivorous ones. We propose that the existence of these kind of phenotypic attributes, apparently generalized in brachyuran decapods, could play an important role both from an ecological as well as evolutionary point of view.