Allometric growth analysis on chelae dimensions vs. carapace length (CL) was employed to estimate average size at the onset of morphometric maturity (= puberty molt) and sexual dimorphism regarding the pair of chelae in Aegla franca. Males attain morphometric maturity (12.15 mm of CL) at a larger size than females (10.93 mm of CL). After the puberty molt, an additional change in the allometry level regarding chelae dimensions was detected in adult males (average CL = 19.00 mm). As a result, two sequential morphotype groups of adult males, herein designated as morphotype I and morphotype II, were recognized according to the state of development of the pair of claws. We postulate that the second change in this allometry level is related to functional maturity in this sex, based on the following observations: 1) temporal variation in the proportion between the two morphotype groups reveals that morphotype II individuals make up most of adult males in the population at the beginning of the seasonal reproductive period of the species, and 2) morphotype II males show a more robust pair of claws as compared to the predecessor morphotype, which might represent an advantageous trait in reproductive competition. Males and females of Aegla franca are heterochelous with handedness preponderance of the left chela. Claw size is a distinct dimorphic trait in this species, being significantly larger in male specimens.
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Vol. 29 • No. 3