Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2003-32


Demographic assessment of the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) in Chesapeake Bay using extractable lipofuscins as age markers.




Ju, SJ; Secor, DH; Harvey, HR


Fishery Bulletin 101(2):312-320


The blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) plays an important economic and ecological role in estuaries and coastal habitats from the Gulf of Mexico to the east coast of North America, but demographic assessments are limited by length-based methods. We applied an alternative aging method using biochemical measures of metabolic byproducts (lipofuscins) sequestered in the neural tissue of eyestalks to examine population age structure. From Chesapeake Bay, subsamples of animals collected from the 1998-99 (n=769) and 1999-2000 (n=367) winter dredge surveys were collected and lipofuscin was measured. Modal analysis of the lipofuscin index provided separation into three modes, whereas carapace-width data collected among the same individuals showed two broad modes. Lipofuscin modal analysis indicated that most adults (carapace width >120 mm) were <2 years old. The results indicate that use of extractable lipofuscin can provide a more accurate and better resolved estimation of demographic structure of blue crab populations in the field than size alone.

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