Vertical and horizontal larval distribution of an offshore brachyuran crab, Monodaeus couchii, off the south coast of Portugal


  • Patricia N. Pochelon Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA) - CESAM, Departamento de Biologia, Campus Univeristario Santiago, Universidade de Aveiro
  • Antonina dos Santos Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA)
  • A. Miguel P. Santos Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA) / CCMAR
  • Henrique Queiroga CESAM, Departamento de Biologia, Campus Univeristario Santiago, Universidade de Aveiro



diel vertical migration, crustacean, deep sea, invertebrate larva, vertical distribution, Monodaeus couchii, Iberian Peninsula


A strong understanding of larval distribution and abundance is of major value in delineating the location and size of a breeding population of deep-sea species such as Monodaeus couchii. In this study, vertical distribution of the larvae of a brachyuran crab, M. couchii, was assessed during two week-long cruises conducted at the end of January 2006 and 2007 off the South Coast of Portugal. Larvae were collected by oblique plankton hauls with a Longhurst-Hardy Plankton Recorder from the surface to 300 m. Abundance and distribution of zoeae I and II were correlated during both years. For all stages, abundance decreased with depth during the day while it increased with depth at night; the larvae thus displayed reverse diel vertical migration. Abundance of zoeae I and II was correlated with chlorophyll a levels, whereas those of later stages were correlated with neither physical parameters (chlorophyll a, temperature or salinity) nor each other. An ontogenic shift in vertical distribution explained the results; earlier zoeal stages remain in the food-rich upper water column while later stages were not correlated with any physical parameters (i.e. chlorophyll a, salinity or temperature) and migrated to the bottom for settlement.


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How to Cite

Pochelon PN, dos Santos A, P. Santos AM, Queiroga H. Vertical and horizontal larval distribution of an offshore brachyuran crab, Monodaeus couchii, off the south coast of Portugal. Sci. mar. [Internet]. 2014Jun.30 [cited 2024Mar.1];78(2):249-56. Available from:




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