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Seasonal feeding habits, reproduction, and distribution of Harpiosquilla harpax(Stomatopoda: Harpiosquillidae) in the Beibu Gulf, South China Sea

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Harpiosquilla harpax, a mantis shrimp, serves an important role in both commercial fisheries and benthic food webs in tropical and subtropical marine areas. Yet its population biology and ecology remain poorly understood. In this study, seasonal, independent surveys were conducted in August 2010, November 2010, February 2011 and May 2011 in the Beibu Gulf (formerly the Gulf of Tonkin), South China Sea. It was observed that H. harpaxdominated the Stomatopoda catch, accounting for more than 80% of the total mantis shrimp caught in the survey areas. Spatial-temporal patterns of H. harpaxtrophic ecology, reproduction, and distribution were examined. The carapace length (CL), body length (BL) and body weight (BW) were compared between the sexes and among seasons and sites. The weight-length relationships of females and males were identified and allometric growth patterns were observed. Study findings showed that sex ratios varied among seasons. Half of the female specimens had a BL of 202.5 mm by sexual maturity. Crustacean, Pisces, and Cephalopoda were the three major taxonomic groups in the stomach content of H. harpax. The dietary patterns of H. harpaxwere significantly different among seasons, but not between sexes or across sites. Its feeding intensity peaked in fall and declined to a minimum in winter. H. harpaxspawned year-round, peaking in summer when the gonad somatic index and sea surface temperature (SST) were highest. H. harpaxdensity was positively correlated with SST and negatively correlated with salinity and phytoplankton density, respectively. Seasonal and latitudinal factors were important in determining the distribution of H. harpax.

Affiliations: 1: 2Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, 3000 NE 151 Street, North Miami, FL 33181, USA; 2: 1College of Fisheries, Guangdong Ocean University, Zhanjiang 524088, P.R. China


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