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The population dynamics of mitten crab larvae in the San Francisco Bay
The Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis, has a history of invasions in numerous countries. In 1992, the Chinese mitten crab was introduced to the San Francisco Bay/Delta system. Since its invasion in the San Francisco Bay, it has become an aquatic nuisance species. Little is known about the population dynamics of the megalopa stage of the Chinese mitten crab in the San Francisco Bay estuary, particularly the megalopa stage. Light traps are often used to sample marine larvae and can provide measures for relative abundance of larvae between sampling locations. As part of an ongoing study to monitor mitten crab larvae in the San Francisco Bay, light trap and plankton tow samples were analyzed for mitten crab megalopae and zoeae. In order to implement low cost sampling devices for mitten crab megalopae such as light traps, it is necessary to be able to identify their larvae in collected samples. Thus, the main objective of this work was to develop a means to distinguish mitten crab megalopae from other native and invasive brachyuran megalopae inhabiting the San Francisco Bay Estuary. The minimal amount of mitten crab megalopae found in light trap samples may be linked to the recent decline of mitten crab zoeae in San Pablo Bay.