Temperature and Age Dependent Fertile Period in Female Snow Crab (Chionoecetes opilio) at the Maturity Molt

Temperature and Age Dependent Fertile Period in Female Snow Crab (Chionoecetes opilio) at the Maturity Molt

B. Sainte-Marie, H. Dionne, and M. Alarie

Temperature and Age Dependent Fertile Period in Female Snow Crab (Chionoecetes opilio) at the Maturity MoltThis is part of Biology and Management of Exploited Crab Populations under Climate Change
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Description

Female snow crabs usually copulate and spawn for the first time shortly after their terminal molt to maturity. Laboratory experiments were conducted to determine (1) the duration of the female fertile period and whether it is temperature-dependent, (2) whether resorption or extrusion is used to cope with unfertilized eggs, and (3) if the amount of inseminated sperm and egg fertilization rate are dependent on the delay between molting and copulation. Experiments revealed that the degree of female molting synchronicity increased with temperature (0.5 vs. 3.7ºC). Extrusion of unfertilized eggs was the most common outcome of failure to be inseminated. The time from molting to extrusion of unfertilized eggs (waiting time) was negatively related to female relative age at molting, positively related to female postmolt size, and declined with increasing temperature. Males passed less sperm to late than to early molters, but the amount of sperm increased with mating delay. Among females that were inseminated up to 60 d postmolt, fertilization rates <95% were observed only in a few late molters or late maters. Molting synchronicity and duration of fertile period (= waiting time) are two key factors influencing female mating success that may be modified by short-term changes in temperature, which may become more frequent and intense events under climate change.

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