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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 101:61-68 (2012)  -  DOI:

Biological characteristics of parasitic Nepinnotheres novaezelandiae within a Perna canaliculus farm

Oliver Trottier*, Andrew G. Jeffs

Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland, Warkworth 0941, New Zealand

ABSTRACT: Pea crabs are commercially significant parasites in the aquaculture production of bivalves in many parts of the world. However, there is scant information available on the biology of these important parasites in aquaculture. The population structure, sex ratio, and breeding status were determined for the pea crab Nepinnotheres novaezelandiae residing in a typical green-lipped mussel Perna canaliculus farm in New Zealand. Of the 324 crabs randomly sampled, there were significantly more female (82.4%) than male (17.6%) crabs found. The vast majority of crabs (87.0%) were sexually mature and of these, females comprised 86.4% and males 13.6%. However, the sex ratio of immature crabs was relatively even, suggesting that male crabs may have higher mortality while searching for mates. Crab size was highly variable, indicating that recruitment to mussels in the farm was continuous. Carapace width ranged from 4.00 to 11.5 mm, with males tending to be smaller with a mean (±SE) carapace width of 6.31 ± 0.16 mm versus females with a carapace width of 8.03 ± 0.06 mm. The crabs did not show any preference for parasitizing mussels of different sexes. Despite the fact that the mussels were only 10 mo old, most female crabs were sexually mature (Stage V) and 89.3% were gravid. The mean (±SE) clutch size was 2592 ± 579 and clutch size was directly associated with female carapace width. The mussel farm pea crab population was estimated at 126390 ± 14144 individuals, including 93000 gravid females carrying a total of over 241 million eggs. Overall, the results show that pea crabs rapidly colonize farmed mussels and mature quickly to establish a significant breeding population within the mussel farm, with larval output capable of infecting nearby mussel farms as well as wild populations of bivalves.

KEY WORDS: Pea crab · Green-lipped mussel · Greenshell™ · Parasite · Mussel farm · Brachyura

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Cite this article as: Trottier O, Jeffs AG (2012) Biological characteristics of parasitic Nepinnotheres novaezelandiae within a Perna canaliculus farm. Dis Aquat Org 101:61-68.

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