Intersexuality and behavior in crayfish: The de-masculinization effects of androgenic gland ablation Academic Article uri icon


  • In crustaceans, male differentiation and primary and secondary characteristics are regulated by the androgenic gland (AG). In gonochoristic crustaceans, the AG is also linked to intersexuality. Whereas the co-occurrence of various male and female characteristics has been demonstrated in intersex crustaceans, little is known regarding sexually dimorphic behavior patterns in such individuals. In the present study, we used an intersex crayfish model to investigate – for the first time in crustaceans – the agonistic and mating behavior of intersex individuals, and to explore the effects of AG ablation on behavior, morphology and physiology. As was the case for their morphological and physiological reproductive traits, intersex individuals – despite being genotypically females – generally resembled males in terms of behavior: they engaged in fighting with males and copulated with receptive females. However, fighting durations of intersex animals were intermediate between those of males and females, and the durations of the copulations were remarkably short. Adult intersex individuals that had been AG ablated at the juvenile stage were unlikely to engage in fighting with males (similar behavior to females) and did not exhibit any mating behavior with receptive females. AG ablation resulted in feminine morphological and physiological shifts in the treated intersex individuals and enabled vitellogenin gene transcription and the onset of secondary vitellogenesis. It thus appears that an as-yet-unknown AG-secreted factor(s) regulating maleness also seems to regulate the organization of male behavior in crustaceans.

publication date

  • January 1, 2006