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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT Relative growth of the swimming crab Ovalipes catharus was described from measurements made on the carapace, abdomen, gonopod, and chelipeds using carapace width (cw) as the reference dimension. Log-transformed regressions were used to test for allometric growth and lines were compared by ANCOVA. No significant difference was found in the growth of the carapace for male and female crabs and relative growth in carapace length was negatively allometric. Abdomen growth in female O. catharus showed a discontinuity between 35 and 40 mm cw indicating the pubertal molt. For prepubertal females and males, abdomen growth was isometric, contrasting with postpubertal females where abdomen growth was positively allometric. Male crabs between 15 and 100 mm cw showed positive allometric growth of the gonopod with a discontinuity corresponding to a carapace width of 40 mm. Relative growth of the gonopod of immature males was significantly greater than mature males. In O. catharus the right chela or crusher was enlarged compared with the left chela. Relative growth of chela height in females was isometric and in males, negatively allometric. For female O. catharus it was concluded that major differences in allometric growth were related to the onset of sexual maturity and the maturation of the gonads. Differences in the allometric growth of the male gonopod and male chelae are more likely related to mating or other behavioral adaptations.


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