DEVELOPMENT OF A NUCLEIC ACID-BASED SPECIFIC GROWTH MODEL FOR JUVENILE BLUE CRAB, CALLINECTES SAPIDUS
Zaveta, Danielle Rae
Miller, Thomas J
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The evaluation and identification of habitats that function as nurseries for marine species has the potential to improve conservation and management. A key assessment of nursery habitat is estimating individual growth. However, the discrete growth of crustaceans presents a challenge for many traditional in situ techniques to accurately estimate growth over a short temporal scale. To evaluate the use of nucleic acid ratios (R:D) for juvenile blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), I developed and validated an R:D-based index of growth in the laboratory. R:D based growth estimates of crabs collected in the Patuxent River, MD indicated growth ranged from 0.8-25.9 (mg·g-1·d-1). Overall, there was no effect of size on growth, whereas there was a weak, but significant effect of date. These data provide insight into patterns of habitat-specific growth. These results highlight the complexity of the biological and physical factors which regulate growth of juvenile blue crabs in the field.