Interannual Variation in the Population Dynamics of Juveniles of the Deep-Sea Crab Chionoecetes tanneri

Type Article
Date 2019-02
Language English
Author(s) Chauvet Pauline1, Metaxas Anna2, Matabos MarjolaineORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Ifremer Centre de Bretagne, REM/EEP, Laboratoire Environnement Profond, Bretagne, France
2 : Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
Source Frontiers in Marine Science (2296-7745) (Frontiers Media SA), 2019-02 , Vol. 6 , N. 50 , P. 15p.
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2019.00050

Understanding the population dynamics of commercially fished deep-sea species, on seasonal to inter-annual scales, is of great importance in areas where fishing pressure is high. The remoteness of the deep-sea environment constitutes a challenge for monitoring these populations. The few studies that have investigated population structure of deep-sea species, have used trawls, a destructive approach for benthic ecosystems. The development of deep-sea observatories offers a continuous long-term presence on the seafloor. Using imagery from the Ocean Network Canada deep-sea observatory, video footage was acquired on a daily basis and analyzed to describe the population dynamics of the deep-sea crab Chionoecetes tanneri located in depths of 900–1000 m in Barkley Canyon, off Vancouver Island (BC, Canada). The objectives here were to describe the dynamics of the local population in relation to changes in environment and/or life-cycle related behaviors. Sampling sites were located along the canyon axis and on the canyon wall. Only juveniles (1–10 cm) were found at the axis site (1000 m depth) with densities varying from 0 to 144 individuals/m2. On the canyon wall (900 m depth), adults (>10 cm) were sporadically observed and densities were lower (max. 13 individuals/m2). Variation in density between the two sites reflected the observed arrival of small individuals (<2.4 cm) at the axis site in summer and autumn. Apart from a distinct migration event in January 2015, intra-annual variability in density was higher than inter-annual variability as illustrated by significant annual and sub-annual cycles of 7.5 and 3.5 months. Our results confirmed the hypothesis of ontogenic migration and provide further insight into inter-molt periodicity; we demonstrated a duration of 16 months for one crab to grow from 1.8 cm to more than 5 cm. Our findings also show a correlation between population dynamics, chlorophyll concentration, surface wave height and wind speed, suggesting that surface blooms have a potential influence on the migration patterns of C. tanneri. Although our study was spatially limited (maximum surface 9 m), this innovative long-term study of a deep-sea crab demonstrates the potential of deep-sea observatories to enable research into the population dynamics of some deep-sea species.

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