|Costs of exclusive male parental care in the sea spider Achelia simplissima (Arthropoda: Pycnogonida)|In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Sea spiders are one of the few marine invertebrates whose males care exclusively for offspring. The costs of parental care, however, have never been addressed for any species of pycnogonid. Costs may be significant for brooding sea spiders of Achelia simplissima, since males carry up to 12 egg masses simultaneously and actively aerate those eggs by moving their ovigerous legs back and forth. This study explored four potential costs to males as a result of parental care: predation, dislodgment, movement and feeding patterns, and frequency of epibionts. Brooding males were found to experience significantly higher frequencies of predator attacks and epibionts, as well as a lower rate of movement compared with nonbrooding males. Interestingly, brooding males were harder to dislodge than nonbrooding males and experienced no change in feeding frequency as a result of parental care. This is the first study to provide evidence that parental care may be costly for male pycnogonids in terms of individual survival and future reproductive success.