There are substantial differences in the body structures of larval crabs, and a team of Rutgers scientists has found some body types lead to an early death, while others favor survival.

Blue crabs support a substantial fishery in New Jersey and other eastern states.

The larval differences are between siblings as well as between offspring of different mothers, the researchers said. They aren’t related to the size of their mothers, according to a study in The Biological Bulletin.

“Early larval stages of crabs can be challenging to work with in the lab, but they are key life stages to study in order to understand blue crab populations,” said lead author Joseph Caracappa, a Rutgers University-New Brunswick doctoral student based at Rutgers’ Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory in Port Norris.

He and senior author Daphne Munroe, an associate professor based at the Haskin laboratory, looked at the offspring of 21 blue crabs. Further research will be needed to explain how differences in body type relate to swimming ability.

In their earliest life stage, blue crab larvae look quite different from adult crabs and live in open water off the coast of New Jersey, the researchers said.

Offshore wind farms as hurricane defense?

University of Delaware’s Cristina Archer recently published a paper that showed large-scale offshore wind farms can protect the shore from precipitation caused by hurricanes.

Archer said previous studies showed hypothetical offshore wind farms can harness the kinetic energy from hurricanes and lessen the effects of wind and storm surge.

But hers is the first to report a decrease in precipitation for onshore locations downstream of a wind farm and an increase in precipitation in offshore areas upstream or within the wind farms themselves. Archer is a professor in Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment and the wind power associate director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.

Cotton pest eradicated

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said this week the U.S. cotton crop is free of the pink bollworm, after more than 100 years of devastation, and the need for fumigation and restrictions on the movement of U.S. cotton will be lifted as a result.

The pest has cost U.S. producers tens of millions of dollars in yearly control costs and yield losses, Perdue said.

“This welcome development comes just as cotton harvest is in full swing across the southern United States,” said Perdue.

He said growers carried out a multistate program to eradicate the pest, and paid 80 percent of the program’s cost.

Pink bollworm was first detected in the United States in Hearne, Texas, in 1917 and had spread to virtually all cotton-growing states by 1963.

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Contact: 609-272-7219 MPost@pressofac.com Twitter @MichelleBPost Facebook.com/EnvironmentSouthJersey

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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