Parasitization of Loxothylacus Texanus on Callinectes Sapidus: Aspects of Population Biology and Effects on Host Morphology
Loxothylacus texanus is a sacculinid rhizocephalan barnacle that parasitizes the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. We collected blue crabs carrying mature L. texanus externae from throughout Florida nearshore Gulf of Mexico waters to (1) describe seasonal and geographic variations in L. texanus infection, (2) document the relationship of seasonal variation in relative abundance of parasitized crabs to that of ovigerous female crabs, and (3) evaluate the morphology of parasitized crabs compared to that of normal crabs. Overall, the proportion of blue crabs carrying mature parasite externae was low in Florida waters, particularly off southwest Florida. However, the relative abundance of these crabs varied markedly on local and regional scales. Relative abundance of crabs carrying externae was not correlated with salinity or temperature but, on a local scale, temperature was related to the proportion of crabs carrying extemae; parasitized crabs were more common in water of 21–25°C. Significant seasonal increases in the relative abundance of crabs carrying mature externae temporally followed similar increases in the relative abundance of ovigerous female crabs by 4–5 months, suggesting that the life cycle of L. texanus is coordinated with that of C. sapidus such that infective female cyprids are abundant during the time that the probability of successfully infecting juvenile crabs is high. Parasitized blue crabs were, on the average, smaller than normal crabs, but the mean size of infected crabs in Florida waters was larger than elsewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. Abdominal width in both male and female crabs carrying externae was significantly wider than that of normal females, suggesting that the morphological changes induced by the parasite are more complex than simply the development of female characteristics in males.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1992-01-01
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