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MATURITY IN MALE MUD CRABS, SCYLLA SERRATA, AND THE USE OF MATING SCARS AS A FUNCTIONAL INDICATOR

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ABSTRACT Based on information from commercial catches of mud crabs (Scylla serrata) in northern Australia, 3 stages in male maturity were identified. The first transition between these stages occurred from 90-110-mm carapace width (CW), as immature crabs attained physiological maturity. This initial stage of maturity was characterized by small-clawed "adolescent" crabs. The second transition took place between 140 and 160-mm CW as adolescent males developed the large-clawed "adult" morphometry. Functional maturity was quantified by the presence of "mating scars" on the front ambulatory legs and sternum of a male. Although some adolescent crabs mated, functional maturity was far more prevalent among adult crabs, especially those in late intermolt. This is attributed to late intermolt, adult males having a greater competitive advantage during mating. The minimum legal size-limits enforced throughout Australia will protect immature males, but do not necessarily ensure that they reach the adult stage or mate successfully.

10.1163/193724096X00504
/content/journals/10.1163/193724096x00504
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/content/journals/10.1163/193724096x00504
2017-08-19

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