Knowledge of short- and long-term reproductive patterns is basic for numerous types of biological, ecological, evolutionary, and fisheries studies. Using data from more than 22 y of sampling commercially valuable stone crabs (genus Menippe (Say, 1819)) in Tampa Bay, FL, we defined size-specific interannual and intra-annual patterns in ovarian development and spawning; explored relationships between the molting cycle and intra-annual patterns; and identified the influence of water temperature on those interrelationships. Frequency of gravid females (frequency-gravid) seemed to shift in multiyear cycles but frequency of ovigerous females (frequency-ovigerous) did not. Frequency-gravid and frequency-ovigerous increased with size class except in the largest females. Interannual variation in frequency-ovigerous was the product of multiple patterns differing principally between size-class-70 and -80 females and size-class-90 and -100 females. Ovarian development, spawning, and molting in females of size classes 20 through 50 occurred principally during peak temperatures in August and September. In females of size classes 70 through 100 , ovarian development, which was tightly and inversely linked to molting, occurred principally from February through August and spawning, which was influenced by both water temperature and molting, occurred principally from April through September. Size-class-60 females exhibited a mosaic of juvenile and adult patterns. Ovarian development and spawning ceased in all size classes when temperature decreased to approximately 25°C during October. Other specific temperatures or narrow temperature ranges were associated with additional shifts in reproduction and molting. Decreases through the years in frequency-ovigerous in females in size classes greater than or equal to 70, and particularly in those in size class 100 , concomitant with increases in frequency-ovigerous in females in size classes 50 and 60, and coupled with possible decreases in size at maturity and minimum spawning size, suggest fisheries selection. Shortening harvesting season by 6 wk during spring would protect females during the first spawning pulse in spring.
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Vol. 35 • No. 2