Seasonal variations in larval biomass and biochemical composition of brown shrimp, Crangon crangon (Decapoda, Caridea), at hatching
Helgoland Marine Research
The "brown shrimp", Crangon crangon (Linnaeus 1758), is a benthic key species in the North Sea ecosystem, supporting an intense commercial fishery. Its reproductive pattern is characterized by a continuous spawning season from mid-winter to early autumn. During this extended period, C. crangon shows significant seasonal variations in egg size and embryonic biomass, which may influence larval quality at hatching. In the present study, we quantified seasonal changes in dry weight (W) and chemical
... composition (CHN, protein and lipid) of newly hatched larvae of C. crangon. Our data revealed significant variations, with maximum biomass values at the beginning of the hatching season (February-March), a decrease throughout spring (April-May) and a minimum in summer (June-September). While all absolute values of biomass and biochemical constituents per larva showed highly significant differences between months (P \ 0.001), CHN, protein and lipid concentrations (expressed as percentage values of dry weight) showed only marginally significant differences (P \ 0.05). According to generalized additive models (GAM), key variables of embryonic development exerted significant effects on larval condition at hatching: The larval carbon content (C) was positively correlated with embryonic carbon content shortly after egg-laying (r 2 = 0.60; P \ 0.001) and negatively with the average incubation temperature during the period of embryonic development (r 2 = 0.35; P \ 0.001). Additionally, water temperature (r 2 = 0.57; P \ 0.001) and food availability (phytoplankton C; r 2 = 0.39; P \ 0.001) at the time of hatching were negatively correlated with larval C content at hatching. In conclusion, "winter larvae" hatching from larger "winter eggs" showed higher initial values of biomass compared to "summer larvae" originating from smaller "summer eggs". This indicates carry-over effects persisting from the embryonic to the larval phase. Since "winter larvae" are more likely exposed to poor nutritional conditions, intraspecific variability in larval biomass at hatching is interpreted as part of an adaptive reproductive strategy compensating for strong seasonality in plankton production and transitory periods of larval food limitation.