Date of Award

Summer 1989

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biological Sciences


Ecological Sciences

Committee Director

John R. Holsinger

Committee Member

Daniel M. Dauer

Committee Member

Anthony J. Provenzano

Committee Member

Ralph Stevens


Remipedes are an unusual group of troglobitic crustaceans that live exclusively in anchialine caves. Since their discovery in 1979, nine species have been described, seven of which are found in caves in the West Indies, one from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and one from the Canary Islands. Most of what is known about these animals has come mainly from taxonomic descriptions. Little has been published about their reproductive biology or ecology. The objectives of this dissertation were to investigate the reproductive biology and ecology of the remipedes inhabiting Sagittarius Cave on Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas.

Sagittarius Cave was chosen as a study site because it was inhabited by several species of remipedes and because of its remote location and lack of disturbance by divers. The cave was sampled every three months for a year. The remipedes and associated fauna in the aphotic zone were collected, and physical factors such as salinity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature were measured. Sagittarius Cave is euhaline throughout but has two or more distinct density interfaces beneath which the water is very low in dissolved oxygen, usually less than 1 ppm. Remipedes are confined to this nearly anoxic habitat. Six species of remipedes were found in the cave along with a community of troglobitic organisms composed primarily of crustaceans. The six species of remipedes collected included two new monotypic genera.

The study of the reproductive biology was restricted to two species of remipedes, Speleonectes benjamini and Godzilliognomus frondosus, because of their abundance in the cave. These species were found to be simultaneous hermaphrodites. The occurrence of mature oocytes was associated with mature spermatophores. Various degrees of oogenesis and spermatogenesis were documented in each individual. Emphasis was placed on the male reproductive system, and ultrastructural details of the sperm are given. The sperm is flagellated and packed into distinctly shaped spermatophores.

General information about remipede internal anatomy and a comparison of external morphology are included, as well as a key to all remipede species and an annotated checklist.


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