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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 365:151-163 (2008)  -  DOI:

Spatial patterns and movements of red king and Tanner crabs: implications for the design of marine protected areas

S. James Taggart1,2,*, Jennifer Mondragon1,2, Alexander G. Andrews1,3, Julie K. Nielsen1,3

1U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center, 3100 National Park Road, Juneau, Alaska 99801, USA
2Present address: NOAA Fisheries, 709 West 9th Street, Juneau, Alaska 99801, USA
3Present address: Juneau Center, School of Fisheries & Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks,
11120 Glacier Highway, Juneau, Alaska 99801, USA

ABSTRACT: Most examples of positive population responses to marine protected areas (MPAs) have been documented for tropical reef species with very small home ranges; the utility of MPAs for commercially harvested temperate species that have large movement patterns remains poorly tested. We measured the distribution and abundance of red king Paralithodes camtschaticus and Tanner Chionoecetes bairdi crabs inside and outside of MPAs in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, USA. By tagging a sub-sample of crabs with sonic tags, we estimated the movement of adult crabs from one of the MPAs (Muir Inlet) into the central portion of Glacier Bay where fishing still occurs. Tanner crabs and red king crabs moved similar average distances per day, although Tanner crabs had a higher transfer out of the Muir Inlet MPA into the central bay. Tanner crab movements were characterized by large variation among individual crabs, both in distance and direction traveled, while red king crabs migrated seasonally between 2 specific areas. Although Tanner crabs exhibited relatively large movements, distribution and abundance data suggest that they may be restricted at large spatial scales by habitat barriers. MPAs that are effective at protecting king and especially Tanner crab brood stock from fishing mortality will likely need to be larger than is typical of MPAs worldwide. However, by incorporating information on the seasonal movements of red king crabs and the location of habitat barriers for Tanner crabs, MPAs could likely be designed that would effectively protect adults from fishing mortality.

KEY WORDS: Marine protected area · MPA · Marine reserve · Sonic tracking · Transfer rate · Acoustic monitoring · Paralithodes camtschaticus · Chionoecetes bairdi

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Cite this article as: Taggart SJ, Mondragon J, Andrews AG, Nielsen JK (2008) Spatial patterns and movements of red king and Tanner crabs: implications for the design of marine protected areas. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 365:151-163.

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