Endogenous swimming rhythms of juvenile blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, as related to horizontal transport
The blue crab Callinectes sapidus settles and metamorphoses in areas of aquatic vegetation in estuaries. Crabs in the first-fifth instar stages (J1-5) then emigrate from these areas by walking on the bottom or pelagic dispersal throughout estuaries. The present study was designed to characterize the timing of this migration pattern relative to the light-dark and tidal cycles. Field sampling in Pamlico Sound, NC, USA indicated that J4-5 juveniles were most abundant in the water column during the night. J4-5 juveniles were collected from Pamlico Sound in an area near Oregon Inlet that has semi-diurnal tides, a Mid-Sound area where tides are weak, and on the West side where regular tides do not occur. Crabs from all three sites had a circadian rhythm in which they swam up in the water column during the time of darkness in the field. Peak swimming consistently occurred at about 0300 h, but was not related to the timing of the tidal cycle. Similar results were obtained for juvenile crabs from an adjacent estuary having semi-diurnal tides. Dispersal at night reduces predation by visual predators, and allows early juvenile blue crabs to disperse planktonically from initial settlement sites. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Forward, RB; Reyns, NB; Diaz, H; Cohen, JH; Eggleston, DB
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