Rhizocephalan barnacles in the genus Briarosaccus parasitize and castrate king crab hosts, thereby preventing host reproduction and potentially altering host abundance. To better understand how environmental factors in Alaska may influence Briarosaccus prevalence, we studied the effects of temperature and salinity on the larvae of Briarosaccus regalis (previously Briarosaccus callosus). Nauplius larvae were reared at 7 temperatures (2 to 16 C) and 8 salinities (19 to 40) to determine larval survival and development rates. Maximum survival occurred from 4 to 12 C and at salinities between 25 and 34. In the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, ocean temperatures and salinities are often within these ranges; thus current conditions appear favorable for high B. regalis larval survival. In addition, temperature was negatively correlated with larval development time; thus warmer waters can reduce the time larvae are exposed to the dangers of the planktonic environment. Since only female B. regalis larvae can infect crabs, we investigated the sex ratios of B. regalis broods at different temperatures and how size and morphological traits can be used to sex cyprid larvae. Larval rearing temperature did not affect brood sex ratio (F0.947, P = 0.369), but sex ratio varied among broods (F221.9; P < 0.001). Male larvae (424.5 ± 24.3 μm [mean ± 1 SD]) were significantly larger than female larvae (387.6 ± 22.7 μm [mean ± 1 SD]; F1,221.4; P < 0.001), consistent with other rhizocephalan cyprids, but sizes overlapped between the sexes such that morphological traits were also necessary for determining sex. Overall, this study provides new information on the larval biology, larval morphology, and environmental tolerances of B. regalis, an important king crab parasite.
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Vol. 103 • No. 1