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Fouling Community of the Snow Crab Chionoecetes Opilio in Atlantic Canada

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Abstract We examined the fouling organisms on the exoskeleton of 762 adult male snow crabs (Chionoecetes opilio) from 10 sampling stations situated in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (SGSL) and the Scotian Shelf (SS) off the eastern coast of Canada. A total of twenty-one sessile invertebrate families were observed on the exoskeleton of crabs. Epibiotic families occurring on 10% or less of crabs were considered minor foulers, while families occurring in 50% or more were considered major foulers. Nine minor and 3 major families were observed in the SGSL. The most important taxa were the bryozoans Alcyonidium spp. (87.5%) and Hippothoa spp. (77.5%), as well as the polychaetes Spirorbis spp. (68.8%). Eight minor and 3 major families were observed in the SS. The principal taxa belonged to the cirripeds Balanus spp. (89.1%), the bryozoans Alcyonidium spp. (78.2%) and the polychaetes Spirorbis spp. (77.2%). The relative abundance of each of the taxa observed on crabs suggests that differences in the structure of the community exist between the two studied regions and within a given region. These differences were confirmed by multivariate analyses (e.g., MDS plot, ANOSIM and SIMPER analyses). Variations between the fouling communities are mainly driven by the presence/absence of bryozoans and barnacles. Our results also tend to show that the Cape Breton region may act as a transition zone between the SGSL and the SS. Results are discussed in a general ecological context. Potential stock management implications are also underlined.

Affiliations: 1: a (LS) Centre des Pêches du Golfe, Pêches et Océans Canada, C. P. 5030, Moncton, Nouveau-Brunswick, Canada E1C 9B6 ( savoiel@dfo-mpo.gc.ca);

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2007-01-01
2016-12-09

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