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Gonad Development of Southeastern Alaskan Dungeness Crab, Cancer Magister, under Laboratory Conditions

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Abstract The large percentage of nonovigerous adult female crabs in situ gave rise to the question of whether egg extrusion occurs annually in Dungeness crabs in Alaskan waters as is reported for lower-latitude populations. Accordingly, we studied seasonal variation in gonadal development for 280 male, nonovigerous female, and ovigerous female crabs, reared in flow-through tanks from October 1997 through October 1998. Gonadosomatic indexes (GSI) were determined monthly from March through October 1998 for nonovigerous females, ovigerous females, and males. Oocyte area was also measured for females over the same period. Approximately 10 crabs from each treatment group were sampled monthly. Male GSI increased significantly over time. Nonovigerous females had significantly higher GSI and oocyte areas than ovigerous females. The GSI in October decreased significantly from the GSI in September among nonovigerous females in the laboratory and field, suggesting resorption of gonads. Most mature females do not extrude eggs annually in southeastern Alaska; however, under laboratory conditions, some females can extrude eggs in consecutive years.

Affiliations: 1: a Juneau Center, School of Fisheries & Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 11120 Glacier Highway, Juneau, Alaska 99801, U.S.A. (


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