AB 13:11-19 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00350

Plausible causes for sperm-store variations in the coconut crab Birgus latro under large selective harvesting

Taku Sato*

Research Center for Subtropical Fisheries, Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Fisheries Research Agency, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0451, Japan

ABSTRACT: In populations subjected to size-selective harvesting of large males, remaining males are small and participate in more matings than in pristine populations. The reproductive rate of such harvested populations can be restricted due to sperm limitation, because the numbers of sperm passed to females decrease with decreasing male size and increasing male mating frequency. Japa­nese populations of the coconut crab Birgus latro are typical examples of populations that are subject to selective harvesting of large males. Reproductive output of the population may have declined via sperm limitation. However, there is no evidence that males exhaust sperm reserves through successive matings, and little is known about the factors causing variations in the number of sperm retained by females in the harvested population. Using field investigations and laboratory experiments, I examined (1) whether males exhaust sperm reserves and (2) what factors cause variations in the number of sperm retained by females. About half of the males had exhausted sperm reserves by the end of the mating season. These males were found to be incapable of further mating or of ejaculating larger numbers of sperm, which was inferred from laboratory experiments. The size of individuals of both sexes participating in mating decreased as the mating season progressed, and males did not adjust ejaculate size in response to female size. Thus, variations in the number of sperm retained by females may have mainly been due to a decline in the male ability to ejaculate large numbers of sperm, due both to increased male mating frequency and decreased male size.


KEY WORDS: Birgus latro · Ejaculated sperm · Fertilization rate · Large male-selective harvesting · Population structure · Sperm limitation · Sperm allocation


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Cite this article as: Sato T (2011) Plausible causes for sperm-store variations in the coconut crab Birgus latro under large selective harvesting. Aquat Biol 13:11-19. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00350

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