Skip to main content
Dryad logo

All or nothing: switch to high current reproductive investment under risk of starvation in male kelp crab


Pretterebner, Katrin; Pardo, Luis Miguel (2021), All or nothing: switch to high current reproductive investment under risk of starvation in male kelp crab, Dryad, Dataset,


One of the key features in reproduction of polygynous species is seminal recovery after mating. However, it is poorly known how environmental factors affect the recuperation period of seminal material. This study aims to test plasticity in recovery of seminal reserves in response to distinct environmental conditions of the kelp crab Taliepus dentatus. Male crabs were maintained after depletion of seminal reserves in one of eight different treatments in a factorial design of temperature (12°C and 16°C), food availability (with alimentation and food deprivation) and time period (15 and 30 days), simulating different environmental situations in the laboratory to which the crab might be exposed to along its distribution. Temperature and food availability modulated the seminal recovery period in T. dentatus. Complete replenishment was reached within 30 days in all treatments (i.e., 12°C and 16°C each with alimentation and food deprivation) but the highest recovery index was found in crabs without food provision (16°C). In this condition, the recovery index was twice as high compared to males maintained at a similar temperature but with feeding. Prolonged starvation at 16°C may be extremely stressful conditions for male crabs, during which risk to die probably triggered a concentration of the reproductive effort in favor of immediate reproduction. This suggests that plasticity of energy allocation towards reproduction may be expressed during extremely suboptimal conditions, which might be a similar strategy as proposed by the terminal investment hypothesis. The generally relatively fast seminal recovery regardless of the temperature may explain the kelp crab´s continuous mating throughout the year.


Methods are descriped in detail in the published article.

The dataset corresponds to Figures 3a/b and 4a/b and to the relationship between the vasa deferentia dry weight and carapace length.

Usage Notes

Column electroejaculation:

0 = crabs without initial electroejaculation.

1 = crabs initially electroejaculated.



Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico, Award: 1150388

Fondo de Financiamiento de Centros de Investigación en Áreas Prioritarias, Award: IDEAL 15150003

Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (scholarship), Award: 63140248