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Timing of larval release by intertidal crabs on an exposed shore

Author: Christy, John H.

Source: Bulletin of Marine Science, Volume 39, Number 2, September 1986 , pp. 176-191(16)

Publisher: University of Miami - Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

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Semilunar, tidal and diel timing of larval release by four species of intertidal crabs that occur together on exposed cobble beaches on the Pacific coast of Panama was studied to provide comparisons to temporal patterns of hatching known for estuarine species. Ovigerous females, collected periodically and held until their eggs hatched, were observed daily to determine day-to-day variation in the number releasing larvae. Tidal and solar-day timing of hatching were studied by collecting, at 30-min intervals, zoeae released by females held in a box in the intertidal zone. Xanthodius sternberghii and Cataleptodius taboganus released larvae at night within 1.5 h of high tide and usually during the hour following last light 1–4 days before the quarter moons. Eurypanopeus planus released larvae throughout the lunar cycle about 1 h before both daytime and nighttime high tides. Petrolisthes armatus also released larvae throughout the lunar month but hatching usually occurred only near the times of high tides that peaked at twilight or at night. The timing of hatching by X. sternberghii and C. taboganus is closely similar to that exhibited by several intertidal estuarine crabs. In estuaries, such timing may aid escape of larvae from lethal high temperatures and low salinities. Since these environmental factors vary little with the tidal and diel light cycles on exposed coasts they are unlikely to be important mortality factors influencing the timing of hatching in such habitats. Instead the timing of larval release may aid escape of newly hatched larvae from planktivorous fish that locate prey visually. Contrasts in the timing of hatching among the four species are associated with differences in zoeal size and color, features that may affect their visibility to predators.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1986

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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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