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Annual cycle of growth and population structure of the estuarine crab Hemigrapsus crenulatus (Brachyura: Varunidae) off central Chile

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 June 2021

Ramiro A. Riquelme-Bugueño*
Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile Instituto Milenio de Oceanografía Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile
Tomás Luppi
Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC), Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata-CONICET, Mar del Plata, Argentina
Gonzalo S. Saldías
Departamento de Física, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad del Bío-Bío, Casilla–5C, Concepción, Chile Centro FONDAP de Investigación en Dinámica de Ecosistemas Marinos de Altas Latitudes (IDEAL), Valdivia, Chile
Marcelo E. Lagos
Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile
Mauricio A. Urbina
Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile Instituto Milenio de Oceanografía Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile
Marco A. Retamal
Departamento de Oceanografía, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile
Author for correspondence: Ramiro A. Riquelme-Bugueño, E-mail:


Estuaries and saltmarshes play a fundamental role in the life cycle of many crab species. Diverse studies show that temperature and salinity modulate abundance, size frequency distribution (SFD), sex ratio and growth in crustaceans. These population parameters are usually challenging to estimate due to the high environmental variability of estuaries. Monthly samples of the estuarine crab Hemigrapsus crenulatus were taken from October 2003 to October 2004 (except July 2004) in the Tubul estuary, central Chile. We quantified temporal changes in abundance, size distribution, sex ratio and monthly growth through the annual cycle. A total of 1025 individuals were collected. Sizes ranged from 7.72–33.51 mm carapace length (CL) with a growth rate ranging between 2.13–30.5% mm CL mo−1. Size and growth rates were greater in spring-summer, suggesting a faster growth of younger crabs correlated with increasing sea temperatures in the austral summer. Overall, sex ratio was 1.75:1 in favour of males. Modal analysis identified at least seven cohorts cohabiting throughout the annual cycle. Growth parameters for males and females were the following, respectively: L∞ = 33.6 and 29.6, k = 0.69 and 0.91, t0 = –0.39 and −0.28. Changes in size distribution suggested a recruitment period during autumn and winter seasons when there are lower salinities and temperature fluctuations stresses. Generalized linear models indicated that sea temperature, salinity and chlorophyll were the environmental variables that better predicted the annual patterns in the population structure.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

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