Effect of the pinnotherid crab Pinnaxodes chilensis on the reproductive output and physiological condition of its host, the commercial sea urchin Loxechinus albus

Internship position (12 ECTS)
The edible and economically important sea urchin Loxechinus albus hosts the adult stages of the pinnotherid crab Pinnaxodes chilensis, with rates of prevalence near to 100%. P. chilensis lives at the end of the intestine of L. albus, and empirical evidences suggest that the presence of the crab leads to a reduction in the size of one of the gonads of the sea urchin. Previous studies have focused on the reproductive biology of the pinnotherid crab, and on the effect of fishing protection on the abundance of its adult stages. However, the presence of the pinnotherid crab on the condition of the host remains largely unknown in spite of the importance it may have to understand spatial patterns of reproductive biology of sea urchins. This project aims at understanding the effect of P. chilensis on the reproductive output and the physiological condition of its host L. albus, evaluating spatial variations associated with different levels of exploitation of L. albus. The student will work at the marine laboratory "Estación Costera de Investigaciones Marinas", located at Las Cruces (El Tabo), Region of Valparaíso.
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Maria Dulce
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Reference Number: RP-47831