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  • Writer's pictureAlly Galiotto

Winter 2023 ~ Newsletter

The PCRG gathered at the Suquamish Tribe’s House of Awakened Culture for our Winter Meeting on Thursday, February 2. With over 80 in-person and virtual attendees, we spent the day sharing group and member updates, discussing ongoing projects, and developing next steps for collaborative research. Read the highlights below!

PCRG celebrated its first big in-person gathering since 2020! (Photo: Emily Buckner)


Working Group and Project Updates

Larval Crab Monitoring

In the morning, the Larval Crab Technical Team – Sarah Grossman (Swinomish), Claire Cook (Swinomish), Heather Earle (Hakai), Margaret Homerding (Nisqually), and Allison Brownlee (DNR) – shared their observations and preliminary findings from the first 4 years of light trap monitoring. The Larval Crab Network has now collected data from 45 monitoring sites across the Salish Sea, and the technical team has devoted their time this winter to QA/QC those data and work towards developing a standardized data collection method (Survey123).

Map showing all light trap locations across Washington and British Columbia between 2019 and 2022.

The larval crab monitoring network’s observations show, across all 4 years, that the central Salish Sea had the highest larval abundance, with diminishing numbers to the north and south. Catch also varied inter-annually, with the greatest larval returns seen in 2021 and 2022. There was no clear correlation between abundance and temperature; a majority of larvae were captured below the 18°C stress threshold, though pulses still occurred in warmer waters. Carapace width (CW) gradually decreased over the larval delivery season, and year-to-year variations in size were likely due to a combination of annual delivery dynamics and environmental conditions. The technical team will continue their analysis with the intent of publishing a proof of concept paper – more on this in the coming months!

Save the Date! The Larval Crab Network will reconvene on March 14 for a Pre-season Workshop to standardize our light traps and get ready for the 2023 season. Please fill out this survey to let us know whether you are planning to participate in the larval crab monitoring network in 2023, RSVP for the workshop, and share any equipment needs.

Population Genetics

Later, Jay Dimond (WWU) and Katelyn Bosley (WDFW) shared updates on the current genetics project funded by the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy program. Their current objective is to characterize Dungeness population structure in Puget Sound using a genomic approach, which will be accomplished by sampling 50 adults and 50 megalopae from each management region throughout 2023. They will then determine if current spatial management areas align with the true population structure before convening stakeholder workshops in mid to late 2024. The stakeholder engagement process will involve industry members, fishery managers, and policy staff, and it will focus on the identification of management priorities and ranking of management strategies. A report will be produced from this effort that outlines the engagement process and any recommendations that come from it. Stay tuned for updates!

South Sound Resiliency

On August 17, 2022, PCRG held an initial workshop to discuss Dungeness crab in south Puget Sound (primarily south of the Tacoma Narrows bridge, Marine Area 13). As part of the workshop, attendees provided input on the construction of a conceptual model describing Drivers, Pressures, and States relevant to Dungeness crab. During the Winter Meeting, we reviewed the consensus model to gain further perspectives on factors that influence dynamics of the Dungeness crab population in South Puget Sound. If you’d like to learn more or offer your input, please contact Melanie K. Good at

Fishery Independent Survey

At the end of the day, Matt Nelson (Swinomish), Katelyn Bosley (WDFW), Don Velasquez (WDFW), and Daniel Sund (WDFW) led a meeting for the Fishery Independent Survey Working Group, and we discussed the next steps in implementing a pilot independent survey. Paired pot analyses have helped identify the most appropriate survey gear (ventless, 3 or 4 door pots) and a survey site selection tool is currently being developed using RShiny. Looking forward, a smaller group of potential participants will meet to discuss the logistics of piloting a survey in 2023.


Group and Member Updates

Coordinating Committee Election

We want to offer a huge thank you to our Coordinating Committee members, who over the last two years have been instrumental in developing and finalizing the PCRG Charter and Data Sharing Agreement, as well as facilitating the integration with Puget Sound Restoration Fund. We warmly welcome two new members: Gianna Pantaleo (Suquamish) and Daniel Sund (WDFW). There is one Open position – please reach out to if you are interested or would like to learn more!

Research Highlights

Lindsay Overstreet (UWT) shared preliminary results from her research into the effects of temperature on Dungeness megalopae size and morphology. She found significant effects between temperature and total length with a linear regression model; results from a mixed effects model were not significant. Going forward, she hopes to analyze HSP70 expression to look for physiological markers of stress related to temperature, and plans to conduct a multivariate analysis.

Dungeness megalopa carapace measurement taken in Image-J. (Photo: Lindsay Overstreet)

Mary Fisher (UW) has been working on a juvenile crab diet analysis across 9 sites in Puget Sound. By utilizing DNA metabarcoding on the gut contents of juveniles (CW 5-15 mm), she found a high diversity of taxonomically unique prey in the stomach contents of individuals at the same site and between different sites. The most common prey groups she identified include amphipods, algae, barnacles, and rotifers.


Other Crab-Related News…

Bering Sea Crab Fishery Panel

We were joined by a panel of industry experts – Katie Palof (AKFG), Erin Fedewa (NOAA), and Ben Daley (AKFG) – to discuss the complexities surrounding the recent collapse of Bering Sea crab populations. They shared insights into the multi-faceted management process, the importance of Alaska’s trawl survey data, and the potential mechanisms behind the major collapse of snow crab in 2021. A recording of the panel is available for all PCRG members to view!

CERF Conference Session

Emily Buckner (PSRF) and Katelyn Bosley (WDFW) will be moderating a Crab Research session at the upcoming CERF Conference on November 12-16 in Portland, Oregon. The conference theme is “Resilience and Recovery,” and you can submit abstracts here until May 10. We would love to see you there!

European Green Crab & Molt Hunts

Staci McMahon (WSG) provided an overview of the new WSG Crab Team Molt Hunt protocol and plans to roll out a functionality within the MyCoast App to provide data about presence of European green crab and Dungeness crab molts on Puget Sound beaches. If you would like to receive updates and/or have interest in being involved in trainings and early testing, please contact Staci McMahon at

EGC Molt Hunt (Photo: Emily Grason)

Nicole Burnett (PBNERR) has developed a European green crab Zoea Identification Guide. If you would like to learn more, or are interested in attending a Crab Larvae Identification Training Workshop and/or discussing collaborative projects, please fill out this survey or contact Nicole at


Thank you to the Suquamish Tribe and everyone who helped make our winter meeting a success! We’ll see you next time!

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