Sunday, May 13, 2012

Can't blame your mom on this!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

We all have a lot to thank our moms for, but I know there are some out there who like to blame their moms for some things too. Like, "Don't blame me; I have my mother's sense of humor" or "I can't help it; I got my mom's lack of coordination" or "I'm getting my mom's butt!!!"

"I got my mom's pretty polka dots!" - Neopetrolisthes ohshimai
(OK, that's probably not the porcelain crab's mom,
but it definitely got the polka dots from someone)

It's no different for crab moms, but new research is showing that not all facets of baby crabs can be blamed on their moms. At this past year's Alaska Marine Science Symposium, two such studies looked at potential maternal effects on embryo quality, one in snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) and the other in red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus).

"Eee! I'm a larval snow crab!"

Joel Webb looked at embryo size, dry weight, and chemical compostition (% carbon and nitrogen) in emryonic snow crabs to see if they varied depending on the size of their mothers. It's already known that multiparous mothers (those gals that have been around the block a few times) are more fecund than primiparous females (first-time moms). The question here was: will larger mothers make larger, healthier babies? He found that, for all quality measurements, there was little variation due to female size and shell condition. Ultimately, to answer his question: No.

Yay for opie moms!

Kathy Swiney looked at similar quality controls (size, weight, carbon and nitrogen content) from red king crab clutches. She also found that, while mothers may have been different sizes, the quality of larvae they produced was no different! (There were differences in carbon and nitrogen between years, but that's another story.)

(photos by Ben Daly and Celeste Leroux)

So there you have it: you may blame a lot on your parents, but if you're a crab baby, you can't blame your small stature on you mom!

You can read the abstracts from the link here:
Joel Webb et al.: Are all eggs equal? Maternal effects on embryo quality in the snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio. p. 162

Kathy Swiney et al.: Interannual and Seasonal Variability in the Size-Fecundity Relationship for Red King Crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus), with Considerations of Maternal Size effects on Embryo and Larval Quality. p. 64

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