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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 377:193-202 (2009)  -  DOI:

Early egg traits in Cancer setosus (Decapoda, Brachyura): effects of temperature and female size

Sönke Fischer1,*, Sven Thatje2, Thomas Brey1

1Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
2National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, European Way, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK

ABSTRACT: Previous study on Cancer setosus Molina, 1782 showed that latitudinal changes in temperature control the number of annual egg masses. This study focused on the effects of pre-oviposition temperature and female size on egg traits in C. setosus from northern (Antofagasta, 23°S) and central-southern (Puerto Montt, 41°S) Chile. Blastula eggs produced in nature ranged in dry mass (DM) from 9.1 to 15.1 µg, in carbon (C) from 4.8 to 8.4 µg, in nitrogen (N) from 1.0 to 1.6 µg, in C:N ratio between 4.7 and 5.4, and in volume (V) between 152 and 276 mm3 × 10–4 per female. Blastula eggs from females caught early in the reproductive season in Puerto Montt (September 2006) were significantly higher in DM, C, N, and V than those of females caught 2 mo later, reflecting a seasonal increase in water temperature. In Puerto Montt ‘early’ and ‘late’ season blastula eggs were higher in DM, C, N, and V than eggs from Antofagasta by about 32 and 20%, respectively. Subsequent egg masses produced in captivity in Puerto Montt followed this pattern of smaller eggs with lower DM, C, and N content at higher pre-oviposition temperatures. In Antofagasta no significant difference in DM, C, N, and V between eggs produced in nature and subsequent eggs produced in captivity was found and all egg traits were significantly positively affected by maternal size. Reproductive plasticity in C. setosus helps to explain the species wide latitudinal distribution range.

KEY WORDS: Crustacea · Cancridae · Chile · Latitudinal cline · Reproductive plasticity

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Cite this article as: Fischer S, Thatje S, Brey T (2009) Early egg traits in Cancer setosus (Decapoda, Brachyura): effects of temperature and female size. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 377:193-202.

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