P1.188 Wednesday, Jan. 4 The Effects of Changing Abundance on Reproduction in an Exploited Decapod Crustacean WELLS, S.L.*; MCCONAUGHA, J.R.; Old Dominion University, OEAS; Old Dominion University, OEAS email@example.com
Intense predation can alter the behavior and physiological responses of prey populations including their reproductive output. Commercial exploitation is now recognized as a strong perturbation and can have a strong influence on physiology including reproductive potential of the exploited species. The population structure and density of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, in Chesapeake Bay was adversely affected by overexploitation. Reproductive impacts included decreased egg production, decreased female reproductive effort, and reduced sperm transfer. Female polyandry recently detected by microsatellite DNA analysis, is a reproductive behavior that may be a result of decreased male size and density. In the last few years, conservation measures have been implemented which have significantly increased the abundance of this population. In response to these changes, female reproductive investment and output have rebounded with increased crab abundance. There have been observed increases in the number of eggs per brood, egg diameter, and energy allocation to each egg. Each of these parameters has shown positive intra- and inter-annual changes. Observation of reproductive parameters over the last 10 years shows that both positive and negative changes in abundance can affect reproductive outcomes in this exploited crustacean population.