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Temporal and Spatial Reproductive Patterns of Subtidal Brachyuran Crabs in Coastal Waters of Taiwan

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The reproductive dynamics of subtidal brachyuran crabs in the coastal waters of Taiwan were studied. A total of 41 species of crabs was examined, each with at least one ovigerous individual, from seven sampling sites throughout the island. Differences in distribution range between the brooding and non-brooding populations of Charybdis bimaculata, Portunus argentatus, P. haanii, P. hastatoides, and P. pelagicus suggest that they use different types of habitat. The greater number of species recorded at the southern sampling locations indicates that most subtidal brachyuran crabs observed in the coastal waters of Taiwan favour warmer waters and fine sediment substrates as their breeding grounds. However, the brooding populations of several species (e.g., C. bimaculata, C. natator, Heikea japonicus, Phalangipus hystrix, Portunus gracillimus, and Thalamita sima) were found both at deep and shallow sampling locations, suggesting these species may have a wider range of preferences with regard to water temperature and types of sediment. Four reproductive patterns were recognized: (1) limited to a single season, (2) stretching two or three consecutive seasons, (3) biannual, and (4) year-round. Differences in peak reproductive times of C. bimaculata, P. argentatus, and P. haanii between deep and shallow sampling locations suggest the presence of reproductive plasticity under the influence of differences in environment. La dynamique de la reproduction des crabes infra-tidaux des eaux côtières de Taiwan a été étudiée. Un total de 41 espèces de crabes a été examiné, chacune avec au moins un individu ovigère, à partir de 7 sites échantillonnés à travers l'île. Des différences dans l'étendue de la distribution entre les populations de Charybdis bimaculata, Portunus argentatus, P. haanii, P. hastatoides et P. pelagicus, en période de reproduction ou non suggèrent qu'elles utilisent différents types d'habitat. Le plus grand nombre d'espèces trouvées dans les sites d'échantillonnage du sud indique que la plupart des crabes infra-tidaux observés dans les eaux côtières de Taiwan préfèrent les eaux plus tièdes et un substrat de fin sédiment pour la période de reproduction. Cependant, les populations en reproduction de plusieurs espèces (C. bimaculata, C. natator, Heikea japonicus, Phalangipus hystrix, Portunus gracillimus et Thalamita sima) ont été trouvées à la fois dans des sites profonds et peu profonds, suggérant que ces espèces pouvaient avoir une échelle de préférence plus étendue par rapport à la température de l'eau et au type de sédiment. Quatre modèles de reproduction ont été reconnus: (1) reproduction limitée à une seule saison, (2) étendue à 2 ou 3 saisons consécutives, (3) bi-annuelle et (4) tout au long de l'année. Des différences dans le moment du pic de reproduction chez C. bimaculata, P. argentatus et P. haanii entre les échantillons profonds et peu profonds suggèrent la présence d'une plasticité reproductrice sous l'influence de différences dans l'environnement.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Life Sciences, National Chung Hsing University, 250 Kou Kuang Road, Taichung, Taiwan 402, Republic of China;, Email:; 2: Division of Zoology, National Museum of Natural Science, 1 Guang Chien Road, Taichung, Taiwan 401, Republic of China


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