AB 19:143-152 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00517

Growth of the coconut crab Birgus latro estimated from mark-recapture using passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags

Taku Sato1,*, Kenzo Yoseda2, Osamu Abe3, Takuro Shibuno4, Yoshitake Takada5, Shigeki Dan6, Katuyuki Hamasaki7

1Research Center for Subtropical Fisheries, Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Fisheries Research Agency, Fukaiota, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0451, Japan
2Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Fisheries Research Agency, Taira, Nagasaki, Nagasaki 851-2213, Japan
3National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, Fisheries Research Agency, Orido, Shimizu, Shizuoka, Shizuoka 424-8633, Japan
4National Research Institute of Aquaculture, Fisheries Research Agency, Nagai, Yokosuka, Kanagawa 231-0316, Japan
5Japan Sea National Fisheries Research Institute, Fisheries Research Agency, Suido, Cyuou, Niigata, Niigata 951-8121, Japan
6Tamano Laboratory, National Research Institute of Fisheries and Environment of Inland Sea, Fisheries Research Agency, Chikko, Tamano, Okayama 706-0002, Japan
7Department of Marine Biosciences, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Konan, Minato, Tokyo 108-8477, Japan

ABSTRACT: Determination of the growth pattern of a harvested species is an important step toward a proper assessment and suitable management of the stock. Although coconut crab Birgus latro populations in most regions have been severely depleted, few reliable biological data are available. We assessed the growth of B. latro using a mark-recapture method based on the use of passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags on Hatoma Island, located southwest of Okinawa, Japan. Of 781 crabs tagged (337 males, 444 females; 14.89 to 58.03 mm thoracic length [ThL]), 17 males and 20 females were recaptured. The application of PIT tags provided field data for growth of individuals for up to 2326 d and confirmed that coconut crabs molt during the winter dry season on Hatoma Island. The curves relating ThL with age, estimated from data of 29 crabs that had spent one or multiple winter dry seasons at liberty, showed that the coconut crab is an extremely slow growing species, with males showing much higher mean asymptotic ThL (69.87 mm) than females (42.79 mm). The Brody growth coefficient (K) was 0.061 yr-1 for males and 0.091 yr-1 for females. This study is the first to provide growth estimates of wild coconut crabs based on mark-recapture over multiple years. Potentially long-lived, slow growing species such as coconut crabs may be susceptible to overharvesting, and a cautious approach is recommended to the determination of resource management regimes for B. latro.


KEY WORDS: Coconut crab · Birgus latro · Growth rate · Japan · Mark-recapture · Passive integrated transponder tag


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Cite this article as: Sato T, Yoseda K, Abe O, Shibuno T, Takada Y, Dan S, Hamasaki K (2013) Growth of the coconut crab Birgus latro estimated from mark-recapture using passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Aquat Biol 19:143-152. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00517

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