, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 1472–1479 | Cite as

Abundance and dispersal potential of horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) larvae in the Delaware estuary

  • Mark L. Botton
  • Robert E. Loveland


The distribution, abundance, and dispersal patterns of horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) trilobite larvae were determined from 671 plankton tows taken near a spawning beach in lower Delaware Bay, New Jersey, in 1998 and 1999. In both years, peaks in larval abundance occurred during periods of rough surf (>30 cm wave heights). Planktonic larvae were significantly more abundant nocturnally than during the day, but there was no evidence of a lunar component to larval abundance. Larvae were strongly concentrated inshore; trilobites were 10–100 times more abundant in the immediate vicinity of the shoreline than they were 100–200 m offshore. The strong tendency ofLimulus larvae to remain close to the beach suggests that their capability for long-range dispersal between estuaries is extremely limited. We suggest that limited larval dispersal potential may help explain previously observed patterns of genetic variation among the Mid-Atlantic horseshoe crab populations.


Wave Height High Tide Blue Crab Horseshoe Crab Larval Abundance 
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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural SciencesFordham College at Lincoln CenterNew York
  2. 2.Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Cook CollegeRutgers-The State UniversityNew Brunswick
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, Cook CollegeRutgers-The State UniversityNew Brunswick

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