Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 1016–1026 | Cite as

Seasonal movement and resource-use patterns of resident horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) populations in a Maine, USA Estuary

  • Slade MooreEmail author
  • Steve Perrin


Knowledge of resource-use and movement patterns is a missing component in the development of horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) management strategies. Available evidence indicates the potential for a variety of possible migratory behaviors, but the lack of high-resolution, spatial-temporal data has hindered development of a year-round profile of ranging behavior. This need was addressed in the present study by using acoustic telemetry to track the movements of adult horseshoe crabs in two subembayments (Egypt and Hog Bays) of the Taunton Bay Estuary, Maine, from June 2003 to June 2005. Estimated mean total home range sizes were 64.1 and 61.4 ha for breeding crabs tagged in Egypt and Hog Bays, respectively. We observed no horseshoe crab dispersal to areas outside of the subembayments where they were tagged, so no mixing was observed between Egypt and Hog Bay individuals despite a < 4-km separation. Observed shifts in movement patterns, resource use (subtidal versus intertidal), and vagility facilitated a profile of seasonally partitioned horseshoe crab activity, which included late April to early May post-wintering, June–July breeding, August–September pre-wintering, and October–April wintering, where space usage represented about 10% of the mean total home range size. The apparent isolation of these resident populations implies a heightened vulnerability to overexploitation and large-scale habitat alteration that might be more easily sustained by larger, more vagile populations. This work underscores the need to apply horseshoe crab conservation, research, and management efforts at scales that are appropriate to the ranging patterns of crabs, which first requires application of high-resolution methods to identify those patterns.


Home Range Egypt Horseshoe Crab Winter Range Acoustic Telemetry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maine Department of Marine ResourcesWest Boothbay Harbor
  2. 2.Friends of Taunton BayBar Harbor

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