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Fisheries Behavioral Ecology - Abstracts

Stoner, A.W. 2009. Habitat-mediated survival of newly settled red king crab in the presence of a predatory fish: role of habitat complexity and heterogeneity. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 382:54-60.


Red king crab (RKC) (Paralithodes camtschaticus) is generally associated with structurally complex habitats during the first 2 years of benthic life. In this first experimental laboratory study with a fish predator, survival of newly settled juvenile RKC was tested in eight different habitat treatments with varying amounts and types of physical structure, open sand, gravel bottom, and habitat islands. Video observations provided insights on habitat-mediated interactions between Pacific halibut predators (Hippoglossus stenolepis) and crab prey. Survival of RKC increased with amount of physical structure and was highest in the most heterogeneous habitat and in habitats characterized by high density patches. Predator activity decreased with increasing amount of structure, and attacks on RKC were correlated with predator activity. Low survival in open sand habitat was associated with both high attack rate and high capture success (captures per attack). Lower levels of capture success did not vary among the habitats containing algae and other complex physical structures, but attack rates declined with increasing amount of structure, and encounter rate (i.e., prey detection and attack) was the primary determinant of mortality. RKC were capable of detecting predators and adjusted their behavior to avoid predation by sheltering in dense microhabitat patches. Successful stock enhancement for greatly reduced populations of RKC in the Gulf of Alaska will depend upon placing seed stock in habitats with abundant protective habitat, and high quality microhabitats may serve as well as continuous cover.



Last updated 11 January, 2011

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