The research group Invertebrate Zoology was created in 1991 in the Biology Department, Exact and Natural Sciences Faculty (Mar del Plata University) with the aim of studying the natural history (sensu Bartholomew, 1984) of crustaceans and polychaete worms of brackish waters. At the beginning, the goal was to characterize the populational structure of several species of crabs and shrimps that inhabit Mar Chiquita lagoon, as Cyrtograpsus angulatus, Neohelice (=Chasmagnathus) granulata, Uca uruguayensis and Palaemonetes argentinus, and the invasive and reef-building polychaete Ficopomatus enigmaticus. Later, the focus was put on the reproductive and larval biology of the first two crab species, finding a larval export strategy from estuarine to marine waters and estimating fecundity and reproductive output. On the basis of the obtained knowledge, the effect of low salinities and temperatures on embryos, larvae and juveniles of N. granulata, C. angulatus and P. argentinus were experimentally studied, as well as pattern and processes associated with recruitment and survival of first juvenile stages. More recently, other crustacean species were included in the research projects, as the stone crab Platyxanthus crenulatus, the mud crab Panopeus meridionalis, the pea crab Calyptraeotheres garthi, the autochthonous alpheid shrimp Betaeus lilianae, the invasive shrimp Palaemon macrodactylus, the intertidal tanaid Tanais dulongii and several species of autochthonous and invasive amphipods. These projects included the reproductive and parental care behavior, mating systems, molt and growth, development of ovaries, osmoregulation of embryos and larvae, ecophysiology feeding and movements, and an interdisciplinary research of the relationships between predation on crabs by birds and crab neurobiology. In addition, the larval morphology of several crab species was described. Many of the studies were carried within the framework of detected latitudinal differences in life history traits, and the relationships among connectivity, larval migration, genetic differentiation and biogeography, and included sampling and experiments in Mar Chiquita and Bahía Blanca (Buenos Aires Province), San Antonio Oeste (Rio Negro Province) and San José Gulf (Chubut Province). The results were published in more than 100 papers in international specialized indexed journals. From 1991 to 2017 several Licenciature and 12 Doctorate Theses were finalized and international cooperative research projects were established with Germany, Spain and France.

Life history traits
Reproductive and larval biology
Ecophysiology of feeding and osmoregulation
Mating systems
Behavior

in marine, brackish water and freshwater crustaceans and other invertebrates, both autochthonous and invasive, with emphasis in temporal and spatial variability related with the ontogeny and biotic and abiotic environmental factors

Director
Dr. Eduardo Spivak
Researchers
Dra. Sandra Obenat
Dra. Claudia Bas
Dr. Tomás Luppi
Dra. Romina Ituarte
Dra. Guadalupe Vázquez
Dr. Jesus Nuñez
Dr. Emiliano Ocampo
Dr. Carlos Rumbold