Intraspecific biogeographic pattern breakage in the snapping shrimp Betaeus emarginatus caused by coastal copper mine tailings

Marco A. Lardies, Matías H. Medina, Juan A. Correa

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16 Scopus citations


Environmental gradients are common in nature, and geographically widespread species must cope with environmental differences between habitats. Environmental differences produce biogeographic patterns that can involve morphological, physiological, and life-history traits. The Bergmann's rule has been described as one of these ecological and evolutionary patterns, predicting an increase in body size towards colder climates. Human-induced polluting events could impair the performance and/or fitness of exposed individuals and populations. Thus, we hypothesized that species undergoing exposure to pollutants will show a breakage of the natural biogeographical variation of their fitness-related life-history traits. In northern Chile, copper mine tailings have been dumped continuously for more than 60 yr. Because the snapping shrimp Betaeus emarginatus is commonly found in intertidal pools near this dumping site, it was used as a study model. This shrimp has a pelagic larva and a wide distribution along the Chilean coast. Different life-history traits were studied in 5 populations over a range of 19 degrees of latitude along the Chilean coast. Population mean values for female body mass, egg volume, and reproductive output were positively correlated with latitude. In contrast, egg number was negatively correlated with latitude and positively correlated with temperature. Shrimps from the dumping site showed life-history trait values significantly lower than the range observed in areas with no copper enrichment, breaking the biogeographical patterns predicted by the Bergmann's rule. Such studies emphasize the need for integrating different concepts of organism and population ecology and life-history theory in the assessment of anthropogenic pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-210
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2008


  • Biogeography
  • Chile
  • Copper
  • Intertidal rocky shore
  • Life-history traits
  • Reproductive output


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