Morphology of the larval stages of a Mediterranean population of the allochthonous Say’s mud crab, Dyspanopeus sayi (Decapoda: Brachyura: Panopeidae)


  • Elena Marco-Herrero Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía (ICMAN), CSIC
  • Guillermo Guerao IRTA, Cultius Aqüàtics
  • José A. Cuesta Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía (ICMAN), CSIC



Panopeidae, Dyspanopeus sayi, allochthonous species, larval stages, zoea, megalopa


In this study the complete larval development (including four zoeal stages and a megalopa stage) of Dyspanopeus sayi is described and illustrated in detail based on larvae reared in the laboratory. Ovigerous females were collected in Alfacs Bay, Ebro Delta (NW Mediterranean) where the species was recently introduced. These larval stages were compared with others collected in the plankton from the same area, the larval stages described previously for this species and the larval stages of the two other Panopeidae that inhabit the Iberian Peninsula: Panopeus africanus and Rhithropanopeus harrisii. Differences were found in both zoeal and megalopal larval characters between D. sayi and the other two species, which could raise doubt about their placement in the same family.


Download data is not yet available.


Anger K. 2001. The biology of decapod crustacean larvae. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 420 pp.

Birge E.A. 1883. Notes on the development of Panopeus sayi (Smith). Johns Hopkins Univ. Stud. Biol. Lab. 2(4): 411-426.

Chamberlain N.A. 1957. Larval development of Neopanope texana sayi. Biol. Bull. (Woods Hole) 113: 338.

Chamberlain N.A. 1961. Studies on the larval development of Neopanope texana sayi (Smith) and other crabs of the family Xanthidae (Brachyura). Chesapeake Bay Institute, Johns Hopkins Univ. Tech. Rep. 22: 1-37.

Chamberlain N.A. 1962. Ecological studies on the larval development of Rhithropanopeus harrisii (Xanthidae, Brachyura). Chesapeake Bay Institute, Johns Hopkins Univ. Tech. Rep. 28: 1-47.

Connolly C.J. 1925. The larval stages and megalops of Rhithropanopeus harrisii (Gould). Contrib. Can. Biol. Stud. Biol Stn. Can. 2(2): 329-334.

Cuesta J.A., García-Raso J.E., González-Gordillo J.I. 1991. Primera cita de Rhithropanopeus harrisii (Gould, 1814) (Crustacea, Decapoda, Brachyura, Xanthidae) en la Península Ibérica. Bol. Inst. Esp. Oceanogr. 7: 149-153.

Clark P.F. 1986. Northeast Atlantic crabs. Marine Conservation Society, Ross-on-Wye, UK, 252 pp.

Clark P.F., Calazans D.K., Pohle G.W. 1998. Accuracy and standardization of brachyuran larval descriptions. Inver. Reprod. Dev. 33: 127-144.

Clark P.F. 2007. Xanthoid crab (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura) classification and phylogeny: an appraisal using the chaetotaxy of first stage zoeae. Thesis. pp 1-473, Appendix I Larval Descriptions pp. 1-227, Appendix II Larval Figures Acantholobulus bermudensis to Lophozozymus picto. pp. 1-308, Appendix III Larval Figures Lybia plumosa to Zozymodes xanthoides. pp. 309-590. Univer. Marine Station Millport, Univer. of London.

Davidson I.C., Simkanin C. 2011. The biology of Ballast water 25 years later. Biol. Invasions. 14: 9-13.

Felder D.L., Martin J.E. 2003. Establishment of a new genus for Panopeus bermudensis benedict and Rathbun, 1891 and several other xanthoid crabs from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans (Crustacea: Decapoda: Xanthoidea). Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 116 (2): 438-452.

Florio M., Breber P., Scirocco T., Specchiulli A., Cilenti L., Lumare L. 2008. Exotic species in Lesina and Varano lakes, Gargano National Park (Italy). Transit. Waters Bull. 2: 69-79.

Froglia C., Speranza S. 1993. First record of Dyspanopeus sayi (Smith, 1869) in the Mediterranean Sea (Crustacea: Decapoda: Xanthidae). Quad. Ist. Ricerca Pesca Marit. 5: 163-166.

Fusté X. 1988. Crustáceos decápodos de la Bahía de els Alfacs (Delta del Ebro). Inv. Pesq. 52: 617-623.

González-Gordillo J.I., Rodríguez A. 2000. Larval development of Philocheras fasciatus (Risso, 1816) reared in the laboratory, comparison with plankton larvae and occurrence of accelerated development. J. Plank. Res. 22(10): 1909-1923.

Hyman O.W. 1925. Studies on the larvae of crabs of the family Xanthidae. Proc U.S. Nat. Mus. 67(3): l-22.

Hood R.M. 1962. Studies on the larval development of Rhithropanopeus harrisii (Gould) of the family Xanthidae (Brachyura). Gulf Res. Rept. 1(3): 122-130.

Ingle R.W. 1980. British Crabs. Oxford University Press, London and New York, 222 pp.

Kurata H. 1970. Studies on the life histories of decapod Crustacea of Georgia; Part III. Larvae of decapod Crustacea of Georgia. Final Report. University of Georgia Marine Institute, Sapelo Island, GA, 274 pp. PMCid:PMC376749

Marco-Herrero E., Rodriguez A., Cuesta J.A. 2012. Morphology of the larval stages of Macropodia czernjawskii (Brant, 1880) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Inachidae) reared in the laboratory. Zootaxa 3338: 33-48.

Martin J.W. 1984. Notes and bibliography on the larvae of xanthid crabs, with a key to the known xanthid zoeas of the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Bull. Mar. Sci. 34: 220-239.

Martin J.W. 1988. Phylogenetic significance of the brachyuran megalopa: Evidence from the Xanthidae. Symp. Zool. Soc. Land. 59: 69-102.

Micu D., Nita V., Todorova V. 2010. First record of Say's mud crab Dyspanopeus sayi (Brachyura: Xanthoidea: Panopeidae) from the Black Sea. Mar. Biodiver. Rec. 3: 1-6.

Mizzan L. 1995. Notes on the presence and diffusion of Dyspanopeus sayi (Smith, 1869) (Crustacea, Decapoda, Xanthidae) in the Venetian Lagoon. Boll. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. Venezia 44: 121-130.

Ng P.K.L., Guinot D., Davie P. 2008. Systema brachyurorum: Parte I. An annotated checklist of extant brachyuran crabs of the world. Raffles B. Zool. 17: 1-286.

Nizinsk M.S. 2003. Annotated checklist of decapod crustaceans of Atlantic coastal and continental shelf waters of the United States. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 116(1): 96-157.

Pérez M., Camp J. 1986. Distribución espacial y biomasa de las fanerógamas marinas de las bahías del delta del Ebro. Inv. Pesq. 50: 519-530.

Projecto-Garcia J., Cabral H., Schubart C.D.S. 2010. High regional differentiation in a North American crab species throughout its native range and invaded European waters: a phylogeographic analysis. Biol. Invasions 12(1): 253-263.

Rodríguez A., Paula J. 1993. The larval and postlarval development of the mud crab Panopeus africanus A. Milne Edwards (Crustacea: Decapoda: Xanthidae), reared in the laboratory. J. Crustac. Biol. 13: 296-308.

Schubart C.D., Guerao G., Abelló P. 2012. First record and evidence of an established population of the North American mud crab Dyspanopeus sayi (Brachyura: Heterotremata: Panopeidae) in the western Mediterranean. Sci. Mar. 76(1): 79-85.

Vaz S., Hofstede R., Martin J., Dewarumez J.M., Verin Y., Le Roy D., Heessen, Daan N. 2007. Benthic invertebrates community structure inferred from bottom trawl hauls observations and its relationships to abiotic conditions in the southern North Sea. ICES Technical Report 'Structure and dynamics of the benthos in ICES waters' CM 2007/A: 03, 21 pp.

Wehrtmann I.S., Albornoz L. 2003. Larvae of Nauticaris magellanica (Decapoda: Caridea: Hippolytidae) reared in the laboratory differ morphologically from those in nature. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 83(5): 949-957.




How to Cite

Marco-Herrero E, Guerao G, Cuesta JA. Morphology of the larval stages of a Mediterranean population of the allochthonous Say’s mud crab, Dyspanopeus sayi (Decapoda: Brachyura: Panopeidae). Sci. mar. [Internet]. 2013Jun.30 [cited 2024Apr.20];77(2):341-52. Available from:




Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>