Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 9, pp 1903–1916 | Cite as

Spatial, annual and seasonal patterns in the condition and muscle size of snow crab

  • Jean-Denis DutilEmail author
  • R. Larocque
  • S. Valois
  • E. Mayrand
  • B. Sainte-Marie
Original Paper


The extent of spatial (depth and locality) and temporal (season and year) variabilities in condition and relative muscle size (a direct proxy of growth) were examined in male and female adult and non-adult snow crabs Chionoecetes opilio. Condition, determined from the relative size of the digestive gland and moisture content of the muscle and digestive gland, and muscle size, determined as the ratio of merus muscle mass over merus volume, separated as different processes in a principal component analysis. Snow crabs showed a wide range of condition and muscle size values. Overall, the condition was better in non-adult than in adult crabs, with adult females being in worst condition, and muscle size was larger in males than in females. Condition variability was greater for seasonal compared to annual samples, probably reflecting annual molt cycles. In contrast, the muscle size variability was greater for annual compared to seasonal samples, possibly as a result of changing crab abundance and competition intensity during recruitment pulses. Condition and muscle size increased through summer in males and immature females, although to different extents depending on instar, but did not change in adult females. Both condition and muscle size were highly variable at the investigated spatial scales. Condition and muscle size had a significant effect on gonad size, once the effect of crab size was removed, suggesting a direct link between these two parameters and reproductive capability.


Digestive Gland Muscle Size Carapace Width Immature Female North Shore 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Several people participated in different aspects of this study in the field and in the laboratory. The authors wish to express thanks to Frédérique Bélanger, Isabelle Bérubé, Geneviève Bourget, Sébastien Champagne, Cédric Cotté, Jean-Paul Dallaire, Catherine Dion, Marc-Antoine Dion, Hélène Dionne, Réjean Dufour, Jérôme Gagnon, Guillaume Godbout, Julie Normandin, Sébastien Plante, François Tremblay, and to the crew of the C.C.G.S. Calanus II. This project was supported by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Environmental Science Strategic Research Fund (2000 and 2001) and Science Strategic Fund (2002–2004) programs.


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Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Denis Dutil
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. Larocque
    • 1
  • S. Valois
    • 1
  • E. Mayrand
    • 1
  • B. Sainte-Marie
    • 1
  1. 1.Pêches et Océans Canada, Institut Maurice-LamontagneMont-JoliCanada

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