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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT Introduced populations of the spider crab Pyromaia tuberculata have become established in organically polluted bays in Japanese coastal waters. Pyromaia tuberculata is a predominant species in the epibenthic animal community in upper Tokyo Bay where summer hypoxia of bottom water causes a seasonal defaunation of the benthic community. Crabs recolonized the upper bay area after bottom oxygen recovered, settling in midfall, maturing in midwinter, and producing larvae from midspring until the return of hypoxia in summer. While all crabs in the upper part of Tokyo Bay were killed in late summer by the hypoxia, crabs, including ovigerous females, were found throughout the year in the lower part of the bay, where the hypoxia was not severe. Crabs in the lower part of the bay may be parents of recolonized crabs in the lower part of the bay. The purpose was to clarify the life cycle of P. tuberculata in a hypoxic environment. Crab growth and reproduction of P. tuberculata were studied by field surveys and laboratory experiments. Females reached maturity within 6 months after settlement, and the size of adult females tended to decrease when matured in higher temperatures. Developed eggs in which eye spots or eyes had appeared were found throughout the year. Puberty molt of the female could occur at ecdysis to the seventh crab instar. The final instar stage at which males reach maturity may vary individually from the sixth to eighth instars. This research, combined with earlier studies, demonstrates that P. tuberculata in Tokyo Bay reproduces throughout the year, and completes at least two generational cycles annually. These characteristics allow for the opportunistic exchange of larvae between temporary hypoxic and permanently healthy areas, and thus may be responsible for the ability of P. tuberculata to maintain its population in seasonally hypoxic waters.


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