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Comparisons between the reproductive biology of females of two species of deep sea crabs that live in different water depths

Smith, K.D., Potter, I.C. and Hesp, S.A. (2004) Comparisons between the reproductive biology of females of two species of deep sea crabs that live in different water depths. Journal of Shellfish Research, 23 (3). pp. 887-896.

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The reproductive biology of females of Hypothalassia acerba and Chaceon bicolor off the lower west coast of Australia, and of the former species off the southern coast of Western Australia, are compared. The trends exhibited throughout the year by the prevalence of different stages in ovarian development and of females bearing eggs and egg remnants, together with those of relative gonad weight, demonstrate that the reproduction of H. acerba on the lower west coast is highly seasonal. Thus, overall, gonads matured progressively between July and December and oviposition occurred between January and March. The characteristics of H. acerba on the south coast differed in the following ways from those on the lower west coast: (1) no ovigerous females and only two females with egg remnants were caught; (2) late yolk granule oocytes were not developed in ovaries until females had reached a larger size; and (3) investment in gonadal development was less. These results strongly indicate that conditions on the south coast are not as conducive for ovarian development and reproduction and that females migrate from the south to lower west coast for spawning. In contrast to H. acerba, C. bicolor reproduces throughout the year on the lower west coast, presumably reflecting its occupancy of far deeper waters where environmental conditions vary less during the year. Although the mean weights of ovigerous females of H. acerba and C. bicolor were not significantly different (P > 0.05), the mean fecundity of the former species (356,210) was significantly greater (P < 0.001) than the latter species (192,070). The greater fecundity of H. acerba may reflect adaptations by this seasonal spawner to optimize egg production during its short breeding season.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: National Shellfisheries Association
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