Predation of zoeas by megalopae of Ucides cordatus is frequently observed in the laboratory during larval rearing, a phenomenon that could considerably reduce the output of larviculture. Experiments were carried out in the present study to assess how the survivorship of larvae at the end of the larviculture is influenced by cannibalism by megalopae on the larvae of earlier stages, as well as on other megalopae. In addition, tests were performed to assess whether the adoption of different feeding protocols can decrease cannibalism rates. Experiments were carried out in plastic vials containing ocean water (salinity 25 g L-1) under controlled environmental conditions (26°C and 16:8 h LD photoperiod). An ensemble analysis of all the developmental stages indicated that zoeal mortality rates were significantly higher in the presence of megalopae, a result that is consistent with cannibalism by megalopae. However, separate analysis for each developmental stage indicated that only zoea IV, V and VI show reduced survivorship. No cannibalism was detected among megalopae. Food supplementation using Artemia sp. at a density of 6 nauplii mL-1 proved to be successful in reducing cannibalism rates, whereas supplementation at a lower density (0.3 nauplii mL-1) failed to show such an effect. The implications of these results for the larviculture of U. cordatus are discussed.
- Ucides cordatus