Gonad development in females of fiddler crab Uca rapax (Crustacea, Brachyura, Ocypodidae) using macro and microscopic techniques
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The morphology of the ovaries in Uca rapax (Smith, 1870) was described based on macroscopic and microscopic analysis. Females were collected in Itamambuca mangrove, Ubatuba, state of São Paulo, Brazil. In the laboratory, 18 females had their ovaries removed and prepared for histology. Each gonad developmental stage was previously determined based on external and macroscopic morphology and afterwards each stage was microscopically described. The ovaries of U. rapax showed a pronounced macroscopic differentiation in size and coloration with the maturation of the gonad, with six ovarian developmental stages: immature, rudimentary, developing, developed, advanced and spent. During the vitellogenesis, the amount of oocytes in secondary stage increases in the ovary, resulting in a change in coloration of the gonad. Oogonias, primary oocytes, secondary oocytes and follicular cells were histologically described and measured. In female's ovaries of U. rapax the modifications observed in the oocytes during the process of gonad maturation are similar to descriptions of gonads of other females of brachyuran crustaceans. The similarities are specially found in the morphological changes in the reproductive cells, and also in the presence and arrange of follicle cells during the process of ovary maturation. When external morphological characteristics of the gonads were compared to histological descriptions, it was possible to observe modifications that characterize the process in different developmental stages throughout the ovarian cycle and, consequently, the macroscopic classification of gonad stages agree with the modifications of the reproductive cells.