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Distribution and Abundance of Early Life History Stages of the Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus, in Tidal Marsh Creeks near Charleston, South Carolina

David J. Mense and Elizabeth L. Wenner
Estuaries
Vol. 12, No. 3 (Sep., 1989), pp. 157-168
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1351820
Page Count: 12
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Distribution and Abundance of Early Life History Stages of the Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus, in Tidal Marsh Creeks near Charleston, South Carolina
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Abstract

A 16-month study of estuarine habitats in poly-, meso-, and oligohaline salinity regimes near Charleston Harbor assessed the distribution and abundance of megalopae and early crab stages of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. Blue crab were sampled with a plankton net and a cylindrical drop sampler. Blue crab were most abundant in plankton collections at night, accounting for 68% of the megalopae and over 88% of the juveniles collected in day and night tows combined. At night, densities of megalopae were greatest in surface samples, whereas densities in daylight collections were greater on the bottom. Juvenile densities were greatest on the bottom in both day and night collections, although catch rates at night were more variable than those of the megalopae. This suggests that megalopae, and possibly juvenile stages, experience a diel vertical migration. Results indicate that ingress to estuarine nursery areas occurs at the megalopal stage. Megalopal densities were highest at the polyhaline site, while juvenile blue crab were most abundant in the oligohaline area. Habitat utilization by juvenile blue crab was estimated using a cylindrical drop sampler and Venturi suction pump on three bottom types in the intertidal zone. Densities were greatest over the sandy-mud substrate, although catch rates were much lower than those reported for other geographical areas. These results suggest that juvenile blue crab do not occur in abundance on the marsh surface but remain on the creek bottom, possibly because creek physiography and large tidal amplitudes may restrict accessibility to the marsh surface.

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