• Reproductive indices of male snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio, from the Eastern Bering Sea

      Zaleski, Marilyn Fox; Tamone, Sherry L.; Kruse, Gordon; Eckert, Ginny (2012-08)
      The reproductive success of male snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) is complicated by two different life history stages; male C. opilio undergo a terminal molt prior to adulthood which is marked by an allometric change in chela size. While adolescent males can produce spermatophores, terminally molted males are most successful in mating and reproduction. Molting and mating are hormonally linked, with molting regulated primarily by ecdysteroids and mating regulated by the putative reproductive hormone methyl farnesoate (MF). Methyl farnesoate is structurally related to the insect juvenile III hormone and, in addition to reproduction, may have a role as a juvenilizing hormone in crustaceans. The purpose of this study was to determine how molting affects the reproductive biology of snow crab by comparing the gonadosomatic index(GSI) and concentrations of circulating MF in adolescent and adult males. I used shell condition as a rough estimate of time post molt to compare GSI and MF between new-shell males, those that had molted within one year, and old-shell males, those that had not molted for at least 1 year. I measured GSI as the ratio of gonad weight to whole crab weight and used GSI as a proxy for reproductive fitness; I quantified circulating MF using high performance liquid chromatography. New-shell adolescent and adult males had significantly lower GSI than old-shell males; thus molting compromises the reproductive physiology of male C. opilio. New-shell adolescent males had significantly higher MF levels than old-shell adolescent males, and MF levels remained low after the terminal molt, supporting a juvenilizing role for MF in C. opilio.