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Free Content Aspects of the Biology of Juvenile Horseshoe Crabs, Limulus Polyphemus

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Juvenile horseshoe crabs, Limulus polyphemus, occur in the intertidal zone on sand substrates. They exhibit both diurnal and circatidal activity rhythms in the field. Activity consists of crawling at the surface of the sand, is initiated independently of water depth during a falling tide and declines at or after low tide. Activity levels are higher on daytime low tides than on night tides of the same predicted heights. In the laboratory, activity is diurnal under a normal photoperiod and constant depth.

Activity is greatest during the summer months but continues during all months. In the northern Gulf of Mexico, young-of-the-year first appear in June, are present through November and are found in the upper intertidal zone within a few meters of the beach. Larger juveniles are found increasingly lower in the intertidal zone, with subadults at the seaward limit of the intertidal zone. Size-frequency data indicate a prosomal width of 4 cm after 1 year in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Limulus molts during the winter months in that area.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1981

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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