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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 511:143-152 (2014)  -  DOI:

In situ observations of Dungeness crab megalopae used to estimate transport distances by internal waves

Leif K. Rasmuson*, Alan L. Shanks

Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, University of Oregon, PO Box 5389, Charleston, Oregon 97420-5389, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Larvae of many coastal organisms develop offshore and must migrate to shore to settle. Two mechanisms of migration are proposed for crustacean postlarvae: onshore swimming and transport by internal waves. In the Northeast Pacific, to swim ashore organisms must swim east. Additionally, internal wave transport distance increases when organisms swim in the direction of wave propagation. Thus, larval behavior may strongly influence onshore migration, though few studies have examined larval behavior in situ. Megalopae of the Dungeness crab Metacarcinus magister (formerly Cancer magister) were observed in situ to determine if they orient the direction of their swimming and to determine swimming speed over ground. They were not oriented to the east, rather they swam at the surface in the direction of the current at speeds of ~9.8 cm s-1 which previous work suggests should increase transport distance by internal waves. We tested the influence of these behaviors on transport by deploying a thermistor mooring for 24 d and calculating transport distances for all observed waves. We calculated transport potential for both passive particles and particles that swam with the surface current at speeds ranging from 0 to 10 cm s-1. Of the 69 waves observed none would have transported passive particles, but as swimming speed of organisms increased the number of transporting waves increased dramatically. At swimming speeds of 10 cm s-1, all waves would have transported larvae. Megalopae of M. magister do not migrate ashore by swimming east rather they swim with surface currents, which may allow them to better exploit internal waves as a transport mechanism.

KEY WORDS:  Behavior · Larvae · Swimming · Internal waves · Dispersal · Metacarcinus magister · Cancer magister · Megalopae · Crab

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Cite this article as: Rasmuson LK, Shanks AL (2014) In situ observations of Dungeness crab megalopae used to estimate transport distances by internal waves. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 511:143-152.

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