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Morphometry and relative growth of the swimming crab, Portunus Spinicarpus (Stimpson, 1871) from the southern Gulf of Mexico

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The morphometric characteristics and relative growth of the swimming crab, Portunus spinicarpus collected in the southern Gulf of Mexico were examined. A total of 248 specimens was measured on 13 external variables, including measurements of carapace, chelae, and abdomen. For both males and females, each body character was adjusted to a power equation taking the carapace width as the independent variable, and comparisons in the growth parameter (b) between sexes were made. Discriminant Analyses (DA) were also applied to identify measurements characterizing sexes. The results obtained show the males to be larger than the females. The smallest individuals (<28 mm carapace width) were only females, and the only two specimens larger than 60 mm were males. The size of the smallest specimen (13 mm) presumably indicates that individuals recruit to the adult population around this size. The DA showed that the sex discriminating power of the abdomen width was absolute (100% of specimens well classified) only in combination with the carapace depth. The DA and t-test of the b parameter showed that secondary sexual characters corresponded to the lengths of chelae and spines, being larger in males. The statistical analysis of paired characters within sexes indicated a mirror-symmetry in this species, which provides more stability and balance to individuals. Symmetrical traits and body measurements in P. spinicarpus probably explain its ecological success in the western Atlantic. Se examinaron las características morfométricas y el crecimiento relativo del cangrejo nadador Portunus spinicarpus recolectado en el sur del Golfo de México. Se midieron un total de 248 individuos en 13 variables externas, incluyendo medidas del caparazón, quelas y abdomen. Cada característica corporal en machos y hembras se ajustó a una ecuación de tipo potencial tomando el ancho del caparazón como variable independiente, y se hicieron comparaciones entre sexos del parámetro de crecimiento (b). Se aplicaron también Análisis Discriminantes (DA) para identificar las características morfométricas de cada sexo. Los resultados mostraron que los machos son más grandes que las hembras. Los individuos más pequeños (<28 mm en ancho del caparazón) fueron hembras, mientras que los dos únicos especímenes mayores a 60 mm, fueron machos. La talla del espécimen más pequeño (13 mm) indica que probablemente los individuos se reclutan a la población adulta alrededor de esa talla. El DA mostró que el poder para discriminar sexos del ancho del abdomen es absoluto (100% de los especímenes bien clasificados) sólo en combinación con la profundidad del caparazón. El DA y la prueba de t sobre el parámetro b mostraron que las características sexuales secundarias corresponden a la longitud de quelas y espinas, siendo mayor en los machos. Los análisis estadísticos aplicados a las características pareadas dentro de cada sexo indicaron que la especie presenta una simetría en espejo, la cual provee una mayor estabilidad y balance a los individuos. Los rasgos simétricos y características corporales en P. spinicarpus probablemente explican su éxito ecológico en el Atlántico occidental.

Affiliations: 1: Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apdo. Postal 70-305, 04510 Mexico, D.F., Mexico

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