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Reproductive biology of the blue swimmer crab (Portunus pelagicus, Decapoda: Portunidae) in five bodies of water on the west coast of Australia

de Lestang, S., Hall, N.G. and Potter, I.C. (2003) Reproductive biology of the blue swimmer crab (Portunus pelagicus, Decapoda: Portunidae) in five bodies of water on the west coast of Australia. Fishery Bulletin, 101 (4). pp. 745-757.

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Portunus pelagicus was collected at regular intervals from two marine embayments and two estuaries on the lower west coast of Australia and from a large embayment located approximately 800 km farther north. The samples were used to obtain data on the reproductive biology of this species in three very different environments. Unlike females, the males show a loosening of the attachment of the abdominal flap to the cephalothorax at a prepubertal rather than a pubertal molt. Males become gonadally mature (spermatophores and seminal fluid present in the medial region of the vas deferentia) at a very similar carapace width (CW) to that at which they achieve morphometric maturity, as reflected by a change in the relative size of the largest cheliped. Logistic curves, derived from the prevalence of mature male P. pelagicus, generally had wider confidence limits with morphometric than with gonadal data. This presumably reflects the fact that the morphometric (allometric) method of classifying a male P. pelagicus as mature employs probabilities and is thus indirect, whereas gonadal structure allows a mature male to be readily identified. However, the very close correspondence between the CW[sub50]'s derived for P. pelagicus by the two methods implies that either method can be used for management purposes. Portunus pelagicus attained maturity at a significantly greater size in the large embayment than in the four more southern bodies of water, where water temperatures were lower and the densities of crabs and fishing pressure were greater. As a result of the emigration of mature female P. pelagicus from estuaries, the CW[sub50]'s derived by using the prevalence of mature females in estuaries represent overestimates for those populations as a whole. Estimates of the number of...

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: US National Marine Fisheries Services
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