Breeding biology of the Louisiana red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii Girard in Lake Naivasha, Kenya
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This paper describes the breeding biology of the Louisiana red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii Girard) that has been introduced in a tropical lake, Naivasha. Notable differences in crayfish biology are found between the place of origin in Louisiana and lake Naivasha. In Naivasha sexual maturity in females is reached at a larger size (42 mm carapace length (CL), 76 mm full length (FL)) than in males (40 mm CL, 71 mm FL). The corresponding figures for Chalmette area of Louisiana are 31–32 mm CL for both sexes and at Ben Hur Research Centre, Louisiana, 33 mm CL. The females weigh between 15 and 20 g at the onset of egg deposition. The corresponding Louisiana values are from 5 to 10 g. Crayfish in Naivasha as in Louisiana breed both inside burrows which are 10–70 cm deep, and on the sediment in shallow water at a depth of between ≥ 0.5 and 4 m. These observations suggest that reproduction is very much a lake edge activity. The number of breeding individuals in Naivasha varies with the trend of the water surface level. Sexually active females (form I) as judged from secondary sexual characters (appearance of basal hooks at the base of 3rd and 4th walking legs) persist throughout the year at no less than 60% of the adult male population. This is confirmed by the appearance of recently hatched juveniles (3.4 to 6.5 mm CL) in the water throughout the year. Similarly berried females in Naivasha are found throughout the year, though with peaks at irregular intervals. In Louisiana breeding takes place only from August through November with a single peak in October. The fecundity of crayfish in Naivasha is 433 (SE ± 21, N = 133) and there is a positive correlation between body length and egg number.