The reproductive biology of female Dungeness crabs was studied with crab-pot and dive-transect sampling in five bays within or near Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, southeastern Alaska, in April and September yearly from 1992 to 1998. A large percentage of nonovigerous, mature females was found in April, a time when females were expected to be brooding eggs that hatch in May and June. Our study examined differences between ovigerous and nonovigerous females collected in April and September samples to corroborate our previous laboratory study in which we found nonannual egg extrusion among Dungeness crabs. Seasonal differences in the catches of ovigerous and nonovigerous females, crab sizes, shell condition, and appendage injury were examined. Additionally, all crabs collected from two bays were tagged beginning in the fall of 1995; tagging was conducted twice annually. Our pot and dive data indicate that females, particularly larger ones, do not extrude eggs annually. Larger females have lower molting probabilities, which limits mating potential and increases reliance on stored sperm. The tagging study confirmed that at least some females do not extrude eggs in one year and then extrude eggs at a later time without molting, thus skipping at least one reproductive season. A reproductive cycle of Dungeness crabs in Alaska is introduced which includes earlier egg extrusion by larger females and nonannual egg extrusion.
Additional publication details
Dungeness crab, Cancer magister, do not extrude eggs annually in southeastern Alaska: An in situ study