Reproductive cycle and recruitment period of Ocypode quadrata (Decapoda, Ocypodidae) at a sandy beach in southeastern Brazil
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The reproductive cycle and recruitment period of a ghost crab population from Ubatuba, São Paulo, Brazil were investigated by means of examining the developmental stages of gonads of breeding crabs and the ingress of young recruits to the studied population. Monthly collections over a one-year period were carried out during nocturnal low-tide periods at Vermelha beach. The morphology of the abdomen and pleopods was used for sex determination. All captured crabs were measured for carapace width and dissected for the determination of the development stage of the gonads. A total of 582 specimens was captured: 271 males, 241 females, and 70 juveniles. Size ranged from 8.5 to 37.5 mm for males, from 9.5 to 39.2 mm for females, and from 5.8 to 12 mm for early juveniles. Median size of males and females did not differ statistically. The frequency of ovigerous females was markedly low. The onset of sexual maturity in females is achieved at around 23 mm of carapace width. Mature females with advanced gonad stages were not recorded from May to September. Recruitment of young was highest during summer, but the presence of early and late juvenile specimens throughout the year indicates that continuous recruitment is taking place in the studied population.