Oceanographic and demographic mechanisms affecting population structure of snow crabs in the northern Bering Sea


Contact
jkolts [ at ] msudenver.edu

Abstract

Snow crabs Chionoecetes opilio are quite productive at suitable temperatures, but can also be abundant in water cold enough to depress settlement of larvae, growth, and reproduction. In much of the northern Bering Sea, bottom water temperatures are below −1°C for most or all of the year. Crab pelagic larvae prefer to settle at temperatures above 0°C, so we found high densities of juveniles only where intruding warm currents deposited larvae in localized areas. After settlement, maturing crabs appeared to exhibit ontogenetic migration toward deeper, warmer water. Cold temperatures excluded key predators, but decreased fecundity by restricting females to small body size (with associated small clutches) and to breeding every 2 yr. Migration to warmer water may allow females to breed annually and to encounter more adult males needed to fertilize subsequent clutches. Because older males also emigrate, remaining adolescent males probably inseminate newly maturing females. Without localized intrusion of warmer currents, snow crabs might not persist at high densities in such cold waters. However, they are currently very abundant, and export many pelagic larvae and adults.



Item Type
Article
Authors
Divisions
Primary Division
Programs
Primary Topic
Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Published
Eprint ID
37072
DOI 10.3354/meps11042

Cite as
Kolts, J. , Lovvorn, J. R. , North, C. A. and Janout, M. A. (2015): Oceanographic and demographic mechanisms affecting population structure of snow crabs in the northern Bering Sea , Marine Ecology Progress Series, 518 , pp. 193-208 . doi: 10.3354/meps11042


Share


Citation

Research Platforms
N/A

Campaigns


Actions
Edit Item Edit Item