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Male Maturity, Number of Sperm, and Spermatophore Size Relationships in the Coconut Crab Birgus Latro on Hatoma Island, Southern Japan

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Abstract To consider effective resource management strategies for the coconut crab, Birgus latro, we determined the size of males at sexual maturity by histological methods and investigated an optimal method to estimate the number of sperm in spermatophores. The size of 50% sexual maturity in male coconut crabs was estimated at 22.2 mm thoracic length (TL) on the Hatoma Island, Japan. We established a procedure to soak spermatophores for more than 120 min in a 20% NaOH solution before mixing, and to count the sperm within 24 h after mixing, thereby enabling us to assess the number of sperm per individual and estimate male reproductive potential. Using this method, we investigated the relationship between male size and number of sperm retained by males. Larger male coconut crabs have a higher number of sperm in both the vasa deferentia and testis. The relationships between male size and spermatophore volume also increased with increasing male size, and the sperm quantity packed in a spermatophore increased with increasing spermatophore volume. Thus, male coconut crabs display a size-dependent reproductive output, as is reported for other species of anomurans.

Affiliations: 1: a (TS, KY, OA, TS) Ishigaki Tropical Station, Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Fisheries Research Agency, Ishigaki Island, Okinawa 907-0451, Japan

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