Sexual dimorphism and reproductive status of the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii.
The red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii is native to northeastern Mexico and the south-central USA, and it has expanded its distribution worldwide and negatively impacted the ecosystems in the invaded regions. The dynamics of the P. clarkii populations have been studied as the basis for the development of effective control measures against this invasive alien species. Adult males of P. clarkii exhibit a cyclical dimorphism between two sexual morphotypes; reproductive form I has large chelae and non-reproductive form II has small chelae. However, whether P. clarkii females have two sexual morphotypes and exhibit form alternation has not been resolved, and little is known about the degree of intra-sexual dimorphism of the chelae, even among males. We employed allometric growth analysis on the chelae dimensions of P. clarkii females and males that were collected from a small pond in Yokohama, Japan. Our analysis demonstrated the existence of form I, which has larger chelae, and form II, which has smaller chelae, in P. clarkii females and highlighted the intra- and inter-sexual dimorphisms in the chelae of this species. The reproductive cycle of the population was successfully traced by the reproductive status of P. clarkii based on the occurrence patterns of each sexual morphotype; the form I crayfish occurred throughout the sampling period from April to December, while the occurrences of form I females and males were highly correlated, peaking in October. Our results suggested that alternation of sexual forms occurs in P. clarkii females. The ability to discriminate between the sexual morphotypes based on chelae allometric growth would allow us to evaluate the female reproductive status more easily ansd precisely in invasive P. clarkii populations.