A compilation of longevity data in decapod crustaceans

Günter Vogt About the author

Abstract

Longevity information was collected from 219 literature sources for 244 decapod crustaceans, representing 1.7% of species, 4.8% of genera and 30% of families. Reliable methods of age determination (laboratory rearing, mark-recapture method, growth models, lipofuscin method) revealed longevities from 0.1 to 72 years, corresponding to a 700-fold difference between the shortest and longest lived species. The mean longevity of the species included in this article is 7.1 years (SD=10.18; CV=142.9%); 61.1% of the species live less than 5 years, 29.5% live between 5 and 20 years, and 9.4% live longer than 20 years. The basal Dendrobranchiata have a mean longevity of only 2.1 years whereas the Achelata have a mean longevity of 27.2 years. The oldest decapod aged with a direct method is a hermit crab that was reared in captivity for more than 42 years. The particularly long-lived species belong to different families of the infraorders Achelata, Astacidea, Anomura and Brachyura. Average longevity is highest in semiterrestrial and terrestrial habitats (13.0 years), followed by freshwater (7.2 years) and marine and brackish waters (6.0 years). The deep sea, polar waters, freshwater caves and terrestrial environments apparently promote the evolution of high life spans.

Keywords
Decapoda; life span; environment; taxonomy; evolution

Introduction

Ageing and longevity in the Decapoda is still a neglected field of research. In 2012, I have published the first comprehensive review article on ageing and longevity in this ecologically and economically important animal group (Vogt, 2012Vogt, G. 2012. Ageing and longevity in the Decapoda (Crustacea): a review. Zoologischer Anzeiger, 251: 1-25. ). This paper summarized life span data, anti-ageing strategies and age related diseases and discussed the impacts of indeterminate growth and different environments on longevity. Since then, further review articles and book chapters with comprehensive ageing data have been published for freshwater decapods (Vogt, 2014Vogt, G. 2014. Life span, early life stage protection, mortality and senescence in freshwater Decapoda. p. 17-51. In: D.C.J. Yeo; N. Cumberlidge and S. Klaus (eds), Advances in freshwater decapod systematics and biology. Crustaceana Monographs 19. Leiden, Brill .), freshwater crayfish (McLay and van den Brink, 2016McLay, C.L. and van den Brink, A.M. 2016. Crayfish growth and reproduction. p. 62-116. In: M. Longshaw and P. Stebbing (eds), Biology and ecology of crayfish. Boca Raton, CRC Press.), brachyuran crabs (McLay, 2015McLay, C.L. 2015. Moulting and growth in Brachyura. p. 245-316. In: P. Castro; P.J.F. Davie; D. Guinot; F.R. Schram and J.C. von Vaupel Klein (eds), Treatise on zoology - anatomy, taxonomy, biology. The Crustacea, Volume 9C, Part1: Decapoda, Brachyura 1. Leiden, Brill .), cave dwelling decapods (Venarsky et al., 2012Venarsky, M.P.; Huryn, A.D.; Benstead, J.P. 2012. Re-examining extreme longevity of the cave crayfish Orconectes australis using new mark-recapture data: a lesson on the limitations of iterative size-at-age models. Freshwater Biology, 57: 1471-1481.), and crustaceans (Vogt, 2018Vogt, G. 2018. Growing old: aging in Crustacea. p. 179-202. In: G. Wellborn and M. Thiel (eds), The natural history of the Crustacea. Volume 5: Life histories. New York, Oxford University Press. ). In the present article I have compiled and updated all reliable longevity data of decapods that I could find in original studies, review papers and species profiles provided by experienced carcinologists. In addition, I have compared longevities between the higher taxa of the Decapoda and between marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments.

Ageing techniques and their advantages and disadvantages

The longevity data compiled in this paper were obtained with different ageing techniques like growth models, the lipofuscin method, the mark and recapture method, and rearing in captivity. Growth models based on size-frequency and life history data were predominant. Sometimes, life spans were directly estimated from size-frequency and life history data without applying growth models. An alternative indirect ageing method was quantification of the age pigment lipofuscin. The direct methods applied were the mark-recapture method and rearing in captivity.

Rearing in captivity from hatching to death is the most exact ageing technique. However, life span data obtained with this approach are mainly available for relatively short-lived aquaculture, laboratory and pet species. This method underestimates longevity in the wild if the culture conditions are inadequate. On the other hand, it can considerably overestimate natural longevity because protection from adverse environmental conditions, predators and diseases can greatly expand life span. Thus, rearing under optimal conditions reflects the upper possible age limits of the species.

The mark and recapture method is presently the only direct ageing technique applied in the wild. In order to ensure life-long retention of the mark, the tags have to be placed underneath the cuticle. Otherwise, they are lost during moulting. There are several internal markers available for decapods, among them passive integrated transponders (microchips), coded microwire tags, visible implant alphanumeric tags and visible implant elastomeres (Hartnoll, 2001Hartnoll, R.G. 2001. Growth in Crustacea - twenty years on. Hydrobiology, 449: 111-122.; Davis et al., 2004Davis, J.L.D.; Young-Williams, A.C.; Hines, A.H. and Zmora, O. 2004. Comparing two types of internal tags in juvenile blue crabs. Fisheries Research, 67: 265-274.; Buřič et al., 2008Buřič, M.; Kozák, P. and Vích, P. 2008. Evaluation of different marking methods for spiny cheek crayfish (Orconectes limosus). Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems, 389: 02.). Further details on mark-recapture methods are found in Hartnoll (2001Hartnoll, R.G. and Bryant, A.D. 2001. Growth to maturity of juveniles of the spider crabs Hyas coarctatus Leach and Inachus dorsettensis (Pennant) (Brachyura: Majidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 263: 143-158.), Vogt (2012Vogt, G. 2012. Ageing and longevity in the Decapoda (Crustacea): a review. Zoologischer Anzeiger, 251: 1-25. ) and Kilada and Driscoll (2017Kilada, R. and Driscoll, J.G. 2017. Age determination in crustaceans: a review. Hydrobiologia, 799: 21-36.). In practice, the mark-recapture method was mostly used to estimate growth increment per year, which was then used in growth models. There are only few cases where marked specimens were recaptured after more than a decade. For example, a Procambarus erythrops crayfish was recaptured in Sim’s Sink cave, Florida, 16 years after marking (Streever, 1996Streever, W.J. 1996. Energy economy hypothesis and the troglobitic crayfish Procambarus erythrops in Sim’s Sink Cave, Florida. American Midland Naturalist, 135: 357-366.).

The most widespread ageing method used in wild populations is the analysis of length-frequency distributions and reproduction parameters, often combined with growth models. Size frequency analysis depends on the identification of modes in the distribution, which can be equated with recruitment cohorts or year classes. The raw data are first grouped into length groups and then converted to age groups. Growth models such as the von Bertalanffy equation help to estimate longevity from length frequency and life history data. Further details are found in Hartnoll (2001Hartnoll, R.G. and Bryant, A.D. 2001. Growth to maturity of juveniles of the spider crabs Hyas coarctatus Leach and Inachus dorsettensis (Pennant) (Brachyura: Majidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 263: 143-158.) and Jennings et al. (2001Jennings, S.; Kaiser, M.J. and Reynolds, J.D. 2001. Marine fisheries ecology. Oxford, Blackwell , 432p.). Size frequency analysis gives reliable information for short-lived species with well-defined annual reproduction periods. The approach becomes increasingly unreliable the longer a species lives because slowly growing specimens of older age may group together with fast growing specimens of younger age. Since these effects increase with age, size-frequency based growth models are imprecise in long-lived species (Sheehy et al., 1999Sheehy, M.R.J.; Bannister, R.C.A.; Wickins, J.F. and Shelton, P.M.J. 1999. New perspectives on the growth and longevity of the European lobster (Homarus gammarus). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 56: 1904-1915.; Hartnoll, 2001Hartnoll, R.G. and Bryant, A.D. 2001. Growth to maturity of juveniles of the spider crabs Hyas coarctatus Leach and Inachus dorsettensis (Pennant) (Brachyura: Majidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 263: 143-158.). Moreover, the von Bertalanffy growth model assumes that an organism reaches a maximum size and approaches this size asymptotically. This assumption holds for the determinately growing decapods like the snow crab Chionoecetes opilio, which stops growing after a terminal moult but continues to live for several years (Ernst et al., 2005Ernst, B.; Orensanz, J.M. and Armstrong, D.A. 2005. Spatial dynamics of female snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) in the eastern Bering Sea. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 62: 250-268.). However, most decapods are indeterminate growers and have no fixed growth limit.

The lipofuscin method is based on the continuous, life-long deposition of lipofuscin in persistent cell types. Lipofuscin is a fluorescent, yellow-brown aggregate consisting of oxidized protein and lipid clusters (Jung et al., 2007Jung, T.; Bader, N. and Grune, T. 2007. Lipofuscin: formation, distribution, and metabolic consequences. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1119: 97-111.). It originates from lysosomal degradation of cytosolic proteasome-protein complexes and damaged cell organelles. Lipofuscin is insoluble, resists enzymatic degradation and is deposited in residual bodies within the cells. The neurons and neuroglia of some brain areas of decapods obviously persist throughout life and accumulate lipofuscin with age, providing ideal targets for lipofuscin-based age determination (Sheehy, 1992Sheehy, M.R.J. 1992. Lipofuscin age-pigment accumulation in the brains of ageing field- and laboratory-reared crayfish Cherax quadricarinatus (von Martens) (Decapoda: Parastacidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 161: 79-89.). The lipofuscin content is usually quantified by measurement of the lipofuscin area in histological sections and, less reliably, by spectrofluorometric analysis. The lipofuscin content is a marker of the physiological age rather than the chronological age, and therefore, calibration is required with specimens of known age and for each environment (Sheehy et al., 1995bSheehy, M.R.J.; Greenwood, J.G. and Fielder, D.R. 1995b. Lipofuscin as a record of “rate of living” in an aquatic poikilotherm. Journal of Gerontology A, Biological Sciences, 50: B327-336.; Maxwell et al., 2007Maxwell, K.E.; Matthews, T.R.; Sheehy, M.R.J.; Bertelsen, R.D. and Derby, C.D. 2007. Neurolipofuscin is a measure of age in Panulirus argus, the Caribbean spiny lobster, in Florida. Biological Bulletin, 213: 55-66.). In long-lived species, the lipofuscin method is apparently superior to size or weight based ageing techniques (Belchier et al., 1998Belchier, M.; Edsman, L.; Sheehy, M.R.J. and Shelton, P.M.J. 1998. Estimating age and growth in long-lived temperate freshwater crayfish using lipofuscin. Freshwater Biology, 39: 439-446.).

Leland et al. (2011Leland, J.C.; Coughran, J. and Bucher, D.J. 2011. A preliminary investigation into the potential value of gastric mills for ageing crustaceans. p. 57-68. In: A. Asakura (ed), New frontiers in crustacean biology. Leiden, Brill.) and Kilada et al. (2012Kilada, R.; Sainte-Marie, B.; Rochette, R.R.; Davis, N.; Vanier, C. and Campana, S. 2012. Direct determination of age in shrimps, crabs, and lobsters. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, 69: 1728-1733.) suggested using cuticular growth bands of stomach ossicles and the growing edge of the eyestalks for age determination. The interpretation of cuticle bands in the ossicles as annual age marker is based on the idea that parts of the gastric mill are retained through the moult and accumulate a continuous record of age. Analyses in several species seemed to support this idea (Kilada and Driscoll, 2017Kilada, R. and Driscoll, J.G. 2017. Age determination in crustaceans: a review. Hydrobiologia, 799: 21-36.; Gnanalingam et al., 2019Gnanalingam, G.; Butler IV, M.J.; Matthews, T.R.; Hutchinson, E. and Kilada, R. 2019. Directly ageing the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus, with validated band counts from gastric mill ossicles. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 76: 442-451.). However, Sheridan and O’Connor (2018Sheridan, M. and O’Connor, I. 2018. Evidence of complete gastric mill ossicle loss at ecdysis in the European green crab Carcinus maenas (Linnaeus, 1758) (Decapoda: Brachyura: Carcinidae). Journal of Crustacean Biology, 38: 435-442.) and Becker et al. (2018Becker, C.; Dick, J.T.A.; Cunningham, E.M.; Schmitt, C. and Sigwart, J.D. 2018. The crustacean cuticle does not record chronological age: new evidence from the gastric mill ossicles. Arthropod Structure & Development, 47: 498-512.) revealed in several species that the zygocardiac ossicles in question are shed during moulting and wondered how the age information could be transferred to the new cuticle. Because of this unsettled controvery, I have not included growth band data in this paper.

Results

Table 1 includes 282 longevity data for 244 species. These data are heterogeneous because they were obtained with different ageing methods: 108 data come from growth models (mainly von Bertalanffy equations), 61 from the analysis of size-frequency and life history data, 19 from the mark and recapture method, 20 from rearing in captivity, 9 from the lipofuscin method, 2 from shell radiometry, 62 from review articles, book chapters and the discussion sections of papers, and 33 from species profiles compiled by experienced carcinologists (some papers have used more than one ageing approach). Table 1 lists the highest longevities given by the authors. These are either minimum expected life spans, maximum life spans estimated by growth models, or recorded ages of the oldest individuals. The list represents 1.7% of the 14,335 decapod species, 4.8% of the genera, 30% of the families and 63.6% of the sub-/infraorders.

Table 1
Life spans of decapod crustaceans.

Mean longevity of the 244 decapod species is 7.12 years with 4.1% of the species living less than 1 year, 57.0% living from 1-4.9 years, 18.4% from 5-9.9 years, 11.1% from 10-19.9 years and 9.4% living beyond 20 years (Fig. 1). The oldest decapod in captivity is a 42-year old hermit crab (Coenobita clypeatus). This specimen was purchased by Carol Ann Ormes in summer 1976 and kept since then as a pet (Atlas Obscura, 2019Atlas Obscura. 2019. The 40-year-old hermit crab. Available at Available at https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-40yearold-hermit-crab . Accessed on 5 March 2019.
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/th...
). It was still alive in December 2018 (NBC2 News, 2018NBC2 News. 2018. 42-year old pet hermit crab and owner are hit at Fort Myers retirement community. Available at Available at https://www.nbc-2.com/clip/14702689/42-year-old-pet-hermit-crab-and-owner-are-hit-at-fort-myers-retirement-community . Accessed on 25 March 2019.
https://www.nbc-2.com/clip/14702689/42-y...
). The oldest marked decapod ever recaptured is a caridean freshwater shrimp (Xiphocaris elongata) from a headwater stream in Puerto Rico. It was recaptured after 18 years (Cross et al., 2008Cross, W.F.; Covich, A.P.; Crowl, T.A.; Benstead, J.P. and Ramírez, A. 2008. Secondary production, longevity and resource consumption rates of freshwater shrimps in two tropical streams with contrasting geomorphology and food web structure. Freshwater Biology, 53: 2504-2519.). The highest age determined by the lipofuscin method was 72±9 years for a female of the European lobster, Hommarus gammarus, from the Yorkshire fishery in U.K. (Sheehy et al., 1999Sheehy, M.R.J.; Bannister, R.C.A.; Wickins, J.F. and Shelton, P.M.J. 1999. New perspectives on the growth and longevity of the European lobster (Homarus gammarus). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 56: 1904-1915.). The maximum age estimated by growth models was 70-100 years for females and males of coconut crab, Birgus latro, on Christmas island (Drew et al., 2013Drew, M.M.; Smith, M.J. and Hansson, B.S. 2013. Factors influencing growth of giant terrestrial robber crab Birgus latro (Anomura: Coenobitidae) on Christmas Island. Aquatic Biology, 19: 129-141.). The highest age ever estimated by growth models was 176 years in the cave-dwelling crayfish Orconectes australis (cf.Cooper, 1975Cooper, J. 1975. Ecological and behavioral studies in Shelta Cave, Alabama, with emphasis on decapod crustaceans. University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, PhD Thesis. 364p. [Unpublished].). However, reinvestigation of new populations and Cooper’s data with refined growth models revealed a longevity of 22 years for this species, with only a small proportion of individuals exceeding this age (Venarsky et al., 2012Venarsky, M.P.; Huryn, A.D.; Benstead, J.P. 2012. Re-examining extreme longevity of the cave crayfish Orconectes australis using new mark-recapture data: a lesson on the limitations of iterative size-at-age models. Freshwater Biology, 57: 1471-1481.).

Figure 1
Longevity spectrum of the Decapoda. More than half of the 244 investigated species have life spans below 5 years. Approximately 20% of species live longer than 10 years and less than 10% reach ages above 20 years.

Longevity differences between and within higher taxa

Longevity varies markedly between sub-/infraorders (Table 2). The plesiomorphic Dendrobrachiata have average longevities of 2.1 years. The average lifespan of the derived Pleocyemata, which include all other infraorders, is 7.8 years. Caridea live on average for 4.2 years, Brachyura for 5.6 years, Astacidea for 11.0 years, Anomura for 11.4 years and Achelata for 27.2 years (Table 2). For the Gebiidea I have found only one reliable value of 4 years, and for the Axiidea, Polychelida and Glypheidea data are apparently lacking. Kornienko (2013Kornienko, E.S. 2013. Burrowing shrimp of the infraorders Gebiidea and Axiidea (Crustacea: Decapoda). Russian Journal of Marine Biology, 39: 1-14.) estimated the longevity of the Gebiidea and Axiidea to 2-5 years but mentioned that some workers have estimated their maximum life span to 10 years and more.

Table 2
Comparison of longevities between higher taxa.

Longevity can markedly differ among members of the same higher taxon. Longevity varies from 0.1-9 years (CV=75.6%) in the Dendrobranchiata, 0.5-18 years (CV=96.7%) in the Caridea, 0.7-30 years (CV=102.9%) in the Brachyura, 0.7-70 years (CV=161.2%) in the Anomura, 1.5-72 years (CV=125.5%) in the Astacidea, and 15-40 years (CV=31.5%) in the Achelata (Table 2). There are also marked differences within the same family or genus. Examples are the Cambaridae with life spans of 1.2-22 years and the genus Procambarus with life spans of 1.5-16 years (Table 1). These differences may be the result of the evolution of different life histories and life styles and spreading into different environments.

Longevity differences between marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments

Longevity is on average lowest in the sea and brackish water (6.0 years, n=132), intermediate in fresh water (7.2 years, n=88) and highest in semiterrestrial and terrestrial environments (13.0 years, n=24) (Fig. 2). The difference between marine and freshwater environments is partly due to the fact that the shorter-lived Dendrobranchiata have not invaded freshwater habitats. Longevity promoting environments are obviously the deep sea, polar waters, freshwater caves and the land. For example, the deep sea shrimps Aristeus antennatus and Aristaeomorpha foliacea have the highest life spans of all investigated Dendrobranchiata and the polar caridean shrimps Notocrangon antarcticus  and Sclerocrangon boreas live much longer than crangonids from warmer waters (Table 1). The cave-dwelling shrimp Palaemonias ganteri and crayfish Orconectes australis live much longer than their epigean relatives, and the terrestrial anomurans have considerably higher life spans than their marine and freshwater relatives (Table 1).

Figure 2
Comparison of longevities between marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. The percentage of life spans ≥5 years increases markedly from marine to freshwater to terrestrial species. Brackish water species are included in the marine group.

Particularly long-lived species

Species that live for several decades are found in distantly related families like the achelatan Palinuridae (spiny lobsters), astacidean Nephropidae (clawed lobsters) and Parastacidae (southern hemisphere crayfish), anomuran Coenobitidae (hermit and coconut crabs), and brachyuran Menippidae and Inachidae. Examples of the first four families are found in Table 1. Examples of the latter two families are the Tasmanian giant crab Pseudocarcinus gigas (Lamarck, 1818) and the giant Japanese spider crab Macrocheira kaempferi (Temminck, 1836). The ability of these species to live for many decades and even more than 100 years was deduced from their exceptionally large size (e.g., Homarus americanus and Macrocheira kaempferi), slow growth and late onset of maturity (e.g., Pseudocarcinus gigas and Astacopsis gouldi), and phases of zero and negative growth at high age (e.g., Birgus latro) (Wolf, 1978Wolff, T. 1978. Maximum size of lobsters (Homarus) (Decapoda, Nephropidae). Crustaceana, 34: 1-14.; Hamr, 1997Hamr, P. 1997. A giant’s tale: The life history of Astacopsis gouldi (Decapoda: Parastacidae), a freshwater crayfish from Tasmania. Freshwater Crayfish, 11: 13-33.; Gardner et al., 2002Gardner, C.; Jenkinson, A. and Heijnis, H. 2002. Estimating intermolt duration in giant crabs (Pseudocarcinus gigas). p. 17-28. In: A.J. Paul; E.G. Dawe; R. Elner; G.S. Jamieson; G.H. Kruse; R.S. Otto; B. Sainte-Marie; T.C. Shirley and D. Woodby (eds), Crabs in cold water regions: biology, management, and economics. Fairbanks, Alaska Sea Grant.; Drew et al., 2013Drew, M.M.; Smith, M.J. and Hansson, B.S. 2013. Factors influencing growth of giant terrestrial robber crab Birgus latro (Anomura: Coenobitidae) on Christmas Island. Aquatic Biology, 19: 129-141.). For example, the intermoult duration in adult Pseudocarcinus gigas is about 9 years (Gardner et al., 2002Gardner, C.; Jenkinson, A. and Heijnis, H. 2002. Estimating intermolt duration in giant crabs (Pseudocarcinus gigas). p. 17-28. In: A.J. Paul; E.G. Dawe; R. Elner; G.S. Jamieson; G.H. Kruse; R.S. Otto; B. Sainte-Marie; T.C. Shirley and D. Woodby (eds), Crabs in cold water regions: biology, management, and economics. Fairbanks, Alaska Sea Grant.) and the average age at maturity in the giant Tasmanian freshwater crayfish Astacopsis gouldi is approximately 9 years in males and 14 years in females (Hamr, 1997Hamr, P. 1997. A giant’s tale: The life history of Astacopsis gouldi (Decapoda: Parastacidae), a freshwater crayfish from Tasmania. Freshwater Crayfish, 11: 13-33.).

Discussion

The present list of life spans in decapod crustaceans was compiled to provide a first data base for interested carcinologists. Since longevity is an important parameter in ecology, fisheries and conservation (Hartnoll, 2001Hartnoll, R.G. and Bryant, A.D. 2001. Growth to maturity of juveniles of the spider crabs Hyas coarctatus Leach and Inachus dorsettensis (Pennant) (Brachyura: Majidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 263: 143-158.; Cailliet and Andrews, 2008Cailliet, G.M. and Andrews, A.H. 2008. Age-validated longevity of fishes: its importance for sustainable fisheries. p. 103-120. In: K. Tsukamoto; T. Kawamura; T. Takeuchi; T.D. Beard Jr. and M.J. Kaiser (eds), Fisheries for global welfare and environment, Memorial book of the 5th World Fisheries Congress 2008. Tokyo, TerraPub.) it may help researchers in these fields with information and literature. I am aware that the compiled data are quite heterogeneous since they were obtained with different ageing methods but having data of diverse quality is better than having no data. The list includes only data obtained with established methods of age determination such as rearing in captivity, mark-recapture method, growth models and the lipofuscin method (Hartnoll, 2001; Vogt, 2012Vogt, G. 2012. Ageing and longevity in the Decapoda (Crustacea): a review. Zoologischer Anzeiger, 251: 1-25. ). Data obtained by growth band counts of hard structures that are thought to perist during moulting were not considered because this issue is still controversially discussed (Kilada and Driscoll, 2017Kilada, R. and Driscoll, J.G. 2017. Age determination in crustaceans: a review. Hydrobiologia, 799: 21-36.; Becker et al., 2018Becker, C.; Dick, J.T.A.; Cunningham, E.M.; Schmitt, C. and Sigwart, J.D. 2018. The crustacean cuticle does not record chronological age: new evidence from the gastric mill ossicles. Arthropod Structure & Development, 47: 498-512.). Future research must show, whether this approach will be a breakthrough in ageing of decapods or a wrong path.

The Decapoda include almost 15,000 species that differ greatly in body size, life history and ecology (De Grave et al., 2009De Grave, S.; Pentcheff, N.D.; Ahyong, S.T.; Chan, T.Y.; Crandall, K.A.; Dworschak, P.C.; Felder, D.L.; Feldmann, R.M.; Fransen, C.H.J.M.; Goulding, L.Y.D.; Lemaitre, R.; Low, M.E.Y.; Martin, J.W.; Ng, P.K.L.; Schweitzer, C.E.; Tan, S.H.; Tshudy, D. and Wetzer, R. 2009. A classification of living and fossil genera of decapod crustaceans. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 21: 1-109. ). Almost 80% live in the sea or brackish water, about 20% in freshwater and less than 1% on land. The highest percentage of longevity data is available for the terrestrial species followed by freshwater species. Analysis of the longevity data of 244 species revealed an exceptionally broad range of life spans in the Decapoda when compared to other animal groups and differences between higher taxa and environments.

Longevity in the Decapoda ranges from 0.1 to about 70 years, corresponding to a 700 fold difference. The shortest-lived decapods are planktonic shrimps and the longest-lived decapods are clawed lobsters. In insects, the closest relatives of crustaceans, life span varies from a month in fruit fly to about two decades in queens of termites (Thorne et al., 2002Thorne, B.L.; Breisch, N.L. and Haverty, M.I. 2002. Longevity of kings and queens and first time of production of fertile progeny in dampwood termite (Isoptera; Termopsidae; Zootermopsis) colonies with different reproductive structures. Journal of Animal Ecology, 71: 1030-1041.). In bivalves, the longevity range is 1-374 years (Abele et al., 2009Abele, D.; Brey, T. and Philipp, E. 2009. Bivalve models of aging and the determination of molluscan lifespans. Experimental Gerontology, 44: 307-315.), in fishes 1-152 years, in amphibians 1.8-55 years, in reptiles 1-153 years, in birds 1.5-73 years, and in mammals 1-122 years (Carey and Judge, 2000Carey, J.R. and Judge, D.S. 2000. Longevity records: life spans of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish. Monographs on Population Aging 8. Odense, University Press of Southern Denmark, 241p.).

Longevity in decapods apparently depends on taxonomic affiliation. The plesiomorphic Dendrobranchiata have the smallest average live span. They usually live less than 2 years with the exception of some deep-sea representatives. The infraorder with the highest percentage of long-lived species is probably the Achelata, which include slipper lobsters and rock lobsters. However, the coefficient of variation for life spans is high in all infraorders, mostly exceeding 100%. This data indicates that longevity was subject to intense evolution in all infraorders of the Decapoda.

The present compilation of data also shows that longevity is dependent on the environment. Terrestrial species live on average longer than freshwater species, and freshwater species live longer than marine species. In an earlier paper, I have presented examples on the positive correlation of life span and latitude and examples on longevity differences between diverse habitats of the same geographical region (Vogt, 2012Vogt, G. 2012. Ageing and longevity in the Decapoda (Crustacea): a review. Zoologischer Anzeiger, 251: 1-25. ). The deep sea, cold polar waters and nutrient-poor cave environments seem to prolong life spans.

It was not my aim to correlate longevity with body size but there is a general tendency that bigger species have long life spans. For example, freshwater crayfish, lobsters, slipper lobsters and some large brachyuran crabs have life spans of decades, whereas small species from these groups life only for 1-2 years. However, there are also some contradictory examples like the shrimps of the genus Penaeus that reach sizes of more than 30 cm but live only for about 2 years.

The present database gives no information about which method of age determination is the most appropriate one, because studies that have analysed the same population with more than one ageing technique are scarce. For example, in the shrimp Xiphocaris elongata from a Puerto Rican headwater stream longevity was estimated to 11 years by a growth model but recapture of an earlier marked specimen revealed an age of 18 years (Cross et al., 2008Cross, W.F.; Covich, A.P.; Crowl, T.A.; Benstead, J.P. and Ramírez, A. 2008. Secondary production, longevity and resource consumption rates of freshwater shrimps in two tropical streams with contrasting geomorphology and food web structure. Freshwater Biology, 53: 2504-2519.).

There is a certain probability that, due to indeterminate growth, some exceptionally large specimens of the long-lived species may become centenarians. However, validation would require long-term rearing in captivity over several generations of researchers or recapture of marked specimens in the distant future. Both approaches are principally possible but I doubt if there are scientists who engage in such long-term tasks.

References

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    16 Sept 2019
  • Date of issue
    2019

History

  • Received
    02 Apr 2019
  • Accepted
    06 July 2019
Sociedade Brasileira de Carcinologia Instituto de Biociências, UNESP, Campus Botucatu, Rua Professor Doutor Antônio Celso Wagner Zanin, 250 , Botucatu, SP, 18618-689 - Botucatu - SP - Brazil
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