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Reproductive season and female maturity size of coconut crab Birgus latro on Hatoma Island, southern Japan


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Information about reproductive season, size at sexual maturity and size-dependent reproductive potentials is important for efficient resource management. Such information is necessary to determine seasonal closures and minimum legal size limits. To conserve resources of coconut crab Birgus latro, which are in danger of extinction due to excessive exploitation, their reproductive season, female size at functional maturity and relationship between female size and reproductive potentials were investigated. The reproductive season started in early June and ended late August, and females with higher reproductive potentials showed a tendency to spawn early in the reproductive season. The prohibition of exploiting the resources during the reproductive season, especially early in the season, would be appropriate for sustainability of high reproductive outputs. Fifty percent of investigated females matured functionally at 24.5-mm thoracic length (TL). However, the size at which all females reached functional maturity was 32.3 mm TL, and there was a wide variation in the size of functional maturity among individuals. We must determine minimum legal size by taking the variation into account to allow all individuals to mate at least once before they are caught, which may prevent serious depression in reproductive rate and genetic diversity.