Population structure and breeding season of the South Atlantic hermit crab, Loxopagurus loxochelis (Anomura, Diogenidae) from the Ubatuba region, Brazil
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A population of Loxopagurus loxochelis was studied in terms of seasonal abundance, size frequency distribution, sex ratio, and reproductive period (percentage of ovigerous females). Specimens were collected monthly over a period of two years (from September 1995 to August 1997) in the non-consolidated areas of the Ubatuba, Mar Virado, and Ubatumirim bays (northern coast of São Paulo State, Brazil) with a double-rig trawl net. A total of 1,084 individuals were analysed. Animal size (minimum, maximum, and mean +/- SD shield length) was 2.8, 9.1, and 6.88 +/- 1.13 mm for 625 males; 2.8, 8.2, and 5.78 +/- 0.98 mm for 236 non-ovigerous females; and 4.6, 8.0, and 6.24 +/- 0.68 mm for 223 ovigerous females, respectively. Sexual dimorphism was recorded by the presence of males in the largest size classes. The sex ratio was 1.4 : 1 in favour of males. The highest incidence of ovigerous females occurred during winter and spring (June to October), with a low percentage in summer and fall (November to May), indicating continuity in the reproductive cycle. This strategy of reproduction is related to temperature. The occurrence of L. loxochelis in the Ubatuba region represents the final point of northern distribution of this species as a function of water mass influence, and could be its real limit on the Atlantic coast of South America.