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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 204:169-178 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps204169

Morphometric, functional and sexual maturity of the deep-sea red crab Chaceon affinis inhabiting Canary Island waters: chronology of maturation

V. Fernández-Vergaz, L. J. López Abellán*, E. Balguerías

Centro Oceanográfico de Canarias, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Carretera de San Andrés s/n, 38120 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Although Chaceon affinis is practically unknown to Canarian fishermen, relatively abundant quantities of deep-sea red crab C. affinis have been found in all trap surveys conducted around the Canary Islands in the last 10 yr, in which waters deeper than 550 m have been examined. From July 1994 to May 1996, monthly samples were taken from north-eastern waters off Tenerife using a variety of trap designs. Crabs were caught at depths ranging from 550 to 1200 m on muddy-rocky bottoms. A variety of measurements were taken from each specimen, and most of these showed linear and isometric growth relative to carapace width (CW). Male chela width (ChW) and female abdomen width (AW) did not show such evident allometry as other crab species. Changes in growth of these features, considered as secondary sexual characters, were used to discriminate morphometrically immature crabs from mature crabs, using hierarchical cluster analysis. Different morphometric groups were distinguished, for both males and females, and male ChW and female AW were plotted against CW. Regressions were calculated separately for each cluster to test the discrimination statistically. Morphometric size at maturity was initially estimated and compared with data on gonad stage. This comparison revealed a high correlation in males between morphometric and sexual maturity, which is reached at about 129 mm CW. However, most females become morphometrically mature before their ovaries mature and before copulation (at sizes of ~99, 108 and 113 mm CW, respectively).

KEY WORDS: Biology · Maturity · Chaceon affinis · Geryonidae · Canary Islands

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