Aspects of the biology of the yabby Trypea australiensis (Dana) (Decapoda: Thalassinidea) and the potential of burrow counts as an indirect measure of population density

D. P. McPhee, Greg A. Skilleter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The thalassinidean shrimp Trypea australiensis (the yabby) commonly occurs on intertidal sandflats and subtidal regions of sheltered embayments and estuaries along the east coast of Australia and is harvested commercially and recreationally for use as bait by anglers. The potential for counts of burrow openings to provide a reliable indirect estimate of the abundance of yabbies was examined on intertidal sandflats on North Stradbroke Island (Queensland, Australia). The relationship between the number of burrow openings and the abundance of yabbies was generally poor and also varied significantly through time, casting doubt on previous estimates of abundance for this species based on unvalidated hole counts. Spatial and temporal variation in population density, the size at maturity and the reproductive period of the yabby were also assessed. Except for an initial peak in abundance as a result of recruitment, the density of yabbies was constant throughout the study but considerably less than that estimated from a previous study in the same area. Ovigerous females were recorded at 3 mm carapace length (CL) which is smaller than previously recorded for this species and thalassinideans in general. Small ovigerous females were found throughout the study, including the summer months, which is unusual for thalassinideans in the intertidal zone. It was hypothesised that in the intertidal zone, small female yabbies may be able to balance the metabolic demands of reproduction and respiration at higher temperatures than can larger females allowing them to reproduce in the warmer months.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


Cite this