Larval Biology and Estuarine Ecology of the Nemertean Egg Predator Carcinonemertes errans on the Dungeness Crab, Cancer magister

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Title: Larval Biology and Estuarine Ecology of the Nemertean Egg Predator Carcinonemertes errans on the Dungeness Crab, Cancer magister
Author: Dunn, Paul Hayven, 1981-
Abstract: The nemertean worm Carcinonemertes errans is an egg predator on the Dungeness crab, Cancer magister, an important fishery species along the west coast of North America. This study examined the estuarine distribution and larval biology of C. errans. Parasite prevalence and mean intensity of C. errans infecting C. magister varied along an estuarine gradient in the Coos Bay, Oregon. Crabs nearest the ocean carried the heaviest parasite loads, and larger crabs were more heavily infected with worms. Seasonal infection patterns were seen at some sites within the bay. Crabs from coastal waters carried significantly more worms than did crabs from the bay, suggesting that the estuary may be acting as a parasite refuge for estuarine crabs. In laboratory experiments, C. errans all died in salinities below 10 within 6 days, but C. errans showed some tolerance to salinities 20 and above. These results suggest that salinity alone does not likely account for the estuarine gradient of C. errans in Coos Bay. Larvae of C. errans raised from hatching never settled in the laboratory. Competent larvae taken in plankton tows were morphologically distinct from larvae raised in laboratory cultures and did settle successfully on C. magister under laboratory conditions. Initial settlement was reversible within a 24-hour window. After 48 hours, a non-reversible metamorphosis occurred wherein worms lost one pair of eyes and the propensity to swim. In field settlement experiments, C. errans was capable of infecting hosts from the water column and preferred to settle on crabs already infected with juvenile worms, although this preference was density dependent. In monthly plankton tows, larvae of C. errans were found only between August and November, suggesting a long larval life for this species. Larvae did not feed under laboratory conditions, nor did they absorb dissolved organics. When exposed to a natural angular light distribution, larvae of C. errans were rarely photopositive. Larvae were most sensitive to blue-green light. Low intensity light invoked a photonegative response. Larvae were geopositive at hatching but geonegative thereafter.
Description: xix, 166 p. : ill.
Date: 2011-09

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