Pülmanns, Nathalie, Mehlig, Ulf, Nordhaus, Inga, Saint-Paul, Ulrich and Diele, Karen (2016) Mangrove Crab Ucides cordatus Removal Does Not Affect Sediment Parameters and Stipule Production in a One Year Experiment in Northern Brazil. PLOS ONE, 11 (12). e0167375. DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0167375.

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Mangrove crabs influence ecosystem processes through bioturbation and/or litter feeding. In Brazilian mangroves, the abundant and commercially important crab Ucides cordatus is the main faunal modifier of microtopography establishing up to 2 m deep burrows. They process more than 70% of the leaf litter and propagule production, thus promoting microbial degradation of detritus and benefiting microbe-feeding fiddler crabs. The accelerated nutrient turn-over and increased sediment oxygenation mediated by U. cordatus may enhance mangrove tree growth. Such positive feed-back loop was tested in North Brazil through a one year crab removal experiment simulating increased harvesting rates in a mature Rhizophora mangle forest. Investigated response parameters were sediment salinity, organic matter content, CO2 efflux rates of the surface sediment, and reduction potential. We also determined stipule fall of the mangrove tree R. mangle as a proxy for tree growth. Three treatments were applied to twelve experimental plots (13 m × 13 m each): crab removal, disturbance control and control. Within one year, the number of U. cordatus burrows inside the four removal plots decreased on average to 52% of the initial number. Despite this distinct reduction in burrow density of this large bioturbator, none of the measured parameters differed between treatments. Instead, most parameters were clearly influenced by seasonal changes in precipitation. Hence, in the studied R. mangle forest, abiotic factors seem to be more important drivers of ecosystem processes than factors mediated by U. cordatus, at least within the studied timespan of one year.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Ecology > Mangrove Ecology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0167375
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2019 17:45
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 12:59
URI: http://cris.leibniz-zmt.de/id/eprint/2320

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