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Temporal variation in the weight-size relationship of the mangrove crab Ucides cordatus L. (Decapoda: Ucididae) in relation to its life cycle phases

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The relationship between weight and size of individuals can be used to evaluate the status of a population, which is particularly useful for natural populations that are being exploited. Ucides cordatus occurs on the Atlantic coast of the American continent, from Florida (USA) to Santa Catarina (Brazil). This species is economically very important, most of all in the Northeastern area of Brazil, as well as in the Dominican Republic and Suriname. The objective of this study was to analyze life phases (‘fattening’, ‘matumba’, ‘milk-crab’, ‘maturation’ and ‘walking’) by use of the weight-length relationships, as well as temporal variations in this condition factor for each sex of U. cordatus. For this purpose, individuals were sampled monthly for twenty-four months at the Jaguaribe River estuary, Ceará State, Northeastern Brazil. The relationship between total weight and cephalothorax width was established using regression analysis, adjusted by a power equation. The dynamics of the condition factor were analyzed for each sex using the variation of its averages related to annual life cycle; this was done for each of the previously-mentioned phases. The relationship between total weight and cephalothorax width showed an isometric growth in males and negative allometric growth in females suggesting that, for the same reference size, males are heavier than females. When considering the average of the female condition factors, these were greater than those for males during the annual life cycle, except during the ‘maturation’ phase, which is the phase with a higher demand of energetic reserves for males. Annual variation of the condition factor in females presented no significant difference.

Affiliations: 1: 1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Recursos Naturais, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil; 2: 2Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Campus do Pici, Centro de Ciências Bloco 902, Secretaria do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Recursos Naturais, CEP 60.455-760, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil


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