The carapace lengths, dry weights, carbon content and nitrogen content of decapod larvae sorted from fresh plankton samples were measured. Regressions for the relationships between dry weight and carapace length were determined for each infraorder and for lower taxa. Regressions between carbon content, nitrogen content and C:N ratio and dry weight were calculated for the different taxa and were compared with published data on larvae reared in the laboratory.
Decapod larvae often comprise a significant component of the zooplankton of estuaries and inshore waters (Lindley et al., 1994). Lindley (1988) has presented data on the relationship between dry weight and carapace length for brachyuran larvae from the plankton. Similar data for other groups of decapods and additional data and analyses for brachyurans are presented here with data on carbon and nitrogen content. Anger & Harms (1990) described the relationships between dry weight; carbon and nitrogen content for decapod larvae reared under controlled conditions in the laboratory. The results of measurements on specimens caught in the plankton in naturally varying conditions provide a comparison with laboratory reared larvae. Harms et al. (1994) compared dry weights and biochemical data for Carcinus maenas (Brachyura) larvae reared in the laboratory with specimens from the plankton off Helgoland. Dry weights of the last two zoea stages and the megalopa larvae from the plankton were higher. The percentage carbon, nitrogen and lipid content were higher in laboratory raised larvae which were fed on Artemia nauplii than in field specimens or in laboratory reared specimens fed on phytoplankton or starved.