Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2010-02


Temperature-, Salinity-, and Size-Dependent Winter Mortality of Juvenile Blue Crabs (Callinectes sapidus).




Bauer, LJ; Miller, TJ


Estuaries and Coasts 33(3):668-677




At midlatitudes within its range, overwintering mortality may play an important role in regulating blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) populations. We conducted a 121-day experiment to estimate winter mortality that used realistic temperature acclimation periods prior to and light levels during experiments. A 2x2x2 factorial experimental design was used to test for the effects of temperature (3 degrees C, 5 degrees C), salinity (10, 25), and sediment (sediment, no sediment) on the survival of juvenile crabs (14-68-mm carapace width) of both hatchery and wild origin. The presence of sediment did not significantly alter crab survival, while hatchery-raised crabs experienced significantly lower survivorship than wild-caught crabs. An accelerated failure time model fit to the survival data indicated that time to death increased significantly with increasing temperature, salinity, and crab size. These results suggest that winter survival varies with winter severity, is spatially dynamic, and that small juveniles are more at risk of dying over the winter than larger juveniles.

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