There has been little research done to in to how the Lironeca vulgaris life history. And what we know is not one hundred percent set in stone. But one of the most interesting things about this organism is that is actually changes sex halfway through its life. But more on that later let’s start with the basics. This organism undergoes sex and is also one that molts to grow. But many things are very clear. It is a heterotroph that gets it food from the gills of the host but more on that in the Interactions section (Brusca: 1978). Life Cycle of Lironeca vulgaris. Drawing by Austin Thompson based by Brusca 1978.

Starting with the life cycle. It has many what are called marsupial stages. These are basically the organism getting legs after being a larva and growing into a juvenile Lironeca vulgaris. After being a juvenile it molts to become the adult male. It can now reproduce and that way it does that is through their version of sex. It has been predicted that they do this in the buccal cavity of the fish. Reason being, they have been spotted clinging male to female to one another in the gills of fish in the right orientation to inseminate the 440 to 540 eggs that the female has. Because of their limited movement it would be highly unlikely for these two to meet in the open water. This is all guess work though because the actual act has never been seen or recorded. What is crazy about these eggs is that about 90% percent will make it to the stage 4 embryo which is impressive giving the high number of offspring they have. After male form it does something not entirely common in the animal kingdom (Brusca: 1978). It switches its sex from male to female in a single molt. But the female’s life is short lived. It is said that it can only give one brood then it dies. It cannot give multiple broods. But this is not fully proven. This is thought to be true because of the number of molts that it goes through. But more on the sex change, it happens right after the male stage where it loses all ability as a male and copulates with the female. So it changes right when it is done its job as a male and then changes over to help make even more Lironeca vulgaris.

An organism like this would require a specific place to live and breed in the wild and the one that seems to pop up in the most are warmer more tropical places like Columbia and the mecha for research on these organisms the Gulf of California. But over all its range is very wide. But the place where most research comes from seams to be the California area it seems to be the best place to go for research on these specific isopods and other genus of them as well. What is so great is that there you can see all the genes in the same environment fighting for resources and living together to see there interactions. And for this specific Genus, how each one affects the fish in different way would be a good start of a new study (Bennett: 1993; Brusca: 1978).