Marine Biology

, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 309–320 | Cite as

Allometric constraints and variables of reproductive effort in brachyuran crabs

  • A. H. Hines


Allometric relationships of reproductive output were compared in 20 species from 7 families of brachyuran crabs from the east and west coasts of North America, using regression analysis of log reproductive parameters versus log body weight. Comparisons of crabs spanning 4 orders of magnitude in body weight indicated that female body size was the principal determinant of reproductive output: 95% of the variance in brood weight, 79% of the variance in the number of eggs per brood, 63% of the variance in annual brood weight, and 74% of the variance in annual fecundity were explained by body weight. Brood weight exhibited an isometric constraint to about 10% of body weight. Allometric limitations on space available for yolk accumulation in the body cavity appeared to be the main constraint on brood size. Ovum size increased significantly, but only slightly, with increasing body size. There was a significant trade-off between ovum size and the number of eggs per brood. There was no significant relationship between the number of broods per year and body size. The number of eggs per brood was significantly better than brood weight as a predictor of the number of broods produced per year by a species, indicating that demographic pressure on fecundity rather than energetic considerations is the primary selective mechanism influencing annual reproductive effort. Each of the 7 families of crabs exhibited trends toward distinct patterns for the suite of co-adapted reproductive traits. However, no interspecific reproductive patterns were apparent with respect to the variables of feeding type, salinity tolerance, habitat, and geographic range represented by the 20 species.


Reproductive Output Reproductive Effort Brood Size Increase Body Size Female Body Size 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. H. Hines
    • 1
  1. 1.Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental StudiesSmithsonian InstitutionEdgewaterUSA

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