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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT Seasonal movements and distribution of primiparous and multiparous red king crabs (Paralithodes camtschaticus) were monitored with ultrasonic biotelemetry approximately weekly for 1 year in Auke Bay, Alaska. Migration was associated with life-history events and may have occurred in response to spatial and temporal variations in environmental conditions and resources. All crabs displayed distinct shifts in depth and habitat use and followed a general pattern of seasonal movement as follows: (1) gradual movement to deep water in spring after mating and egg extrusion, and residence there through early November; (2) abrupt, synchronous movement into shallow-water areas in November, and residence there through late February or early March; and (3) gradual, synchronous movement to intermediate depths followed by movement into shallow water to molt and mate between late March and late May. The behavior of primiparous crabs was more variable than that of multiparous crabs. The differences in behavior may result from ontogenetic shifts in movements, and habitat selection. The annual range of primiparous crabs (x = 11.9 km2) exceeded that of multiparous crabs x( = 3.6 km2). Mean depth was directly correlated with photoperiod, and the sudden, synchronous movement of crabs between habitats coincided with thermohaline mixing. Females displayed a highly aggregated distribution, especially during winter in shallow water, where podding behavior of adult crabs was documented for the first time.


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