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Growth and mortality of the exploited mangrove crab Ucides cordatus (Ucididae) in N-Brazil.

Diele, Karen; Koch, Volker


Volker Koch


Reliable estimates of growth and mortality parameters are crucial for understanding how populations of exploited species may respond to shifts in fishing pressure. Results of previous studies on growth of the ecologically and economically important mangrove crab Ucides cordatus in Brazil differ strongly and age estimates for minimum legal capture size (60 mm carapace width) range between less than 1 and 6–10 years. These discrepancies are probably due to inherent problems of the applied methods, namely laboratory based observations and cohort-analyses. The present paper takes a new approach by measuring individual growth increments of U. cordatus in situ. Crabs were measured, tagged, released into 100 m² field enclosures and periodically recaptured. There was no indication of an enclosure effect and 209 growth increments were obtained from specimens measuring 20.5 to 89.5 mm in carapace width (CW). For improving the size coverage of the von Bertalanffy growth curve, first instar juveniles were reared in the laboratory up to an age of six months. Their average percent size increase (PI) was 22.57 ± 6.75% during biweekly measurements, resulting in a CW of 7.8 to 11.5 mm after six months. Average PI of the enclosure crabs ranged between 10.87 ± 1.17% (indiv. < 40 mm CW) and 1.43 ± 0.87% (indiv. > 80 mm CW) per moult and two large females had moulted without growing. Growth analysis revealed a larger asymptotic size in males than in females (89 mm versus 72 mm) while the growth parameter K of the von Bertalanffy growth function (VBGF) was lower in males (0.17 versus 0.25), resulting in similar growth performance of the two sexes (males: 1.16; females: 1.10). Age at legal minimum capture size estimated by the inversed VBGF was 6.13 years in males and 7.38 years in females, corroborating the mid to upper range of earlier growth estimates. Mortality parameters (Z, M and F) were calculated using length converted catch curves. Z in males was higher than in females (0.69 versus 0.49), as expected from the male-biased fishery. M, F and the exploitation rate E were estimated for three different scenarios taking into account the uncertainty of the age/size of functional maturity. Our study provides key information for the sustainable management of the U. cordatus fishery and confirms that the species is relatively slow growing and long-lived (> 10 years), suggesting a high vulnerability to overfishing.


Diele, K., & Koch, V. (2010). Growth and mortality of the exploited mangrove crab Ucides cordatus (Ucididae) in N-Brazil. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 395, 171-180.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2010
Deposit Date Sep 23, 2013
Publicly Available Date Sep 23, 2013
Print ISSN 0022-0981
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 395
Pages 171-180
Keywords Artisanal fishery; Mark-recapture; Population; Growth increment; Land crabs; von Bertalanffy;
Public URL
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