Nordhaus, Inga, Salewski, Tabea and Jennerjahn, Tim C. ORCID: (2011) Food preferences of mangrove crabs related to leaf nitrogen compounds in the Segara Anakan Lagoon, Java, Indonesia. Journal of Sea Research, 65 (4). pp. 414-426. DOI

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The large amounts of leaf litter produced by tropical mangrove forests serve as a major food source for the benthic fauna. The reasons for the preferential consumption of mangrove leaves by crabs are unclear as yet. We investigated the diet, food preferences and consumption rates of 8 dominant grapsoid crab species (Perisesarma spp., Episesarma spp., Metopograpsus latifrons, and Metaplax elegans) in mangroves of Segara Anakan, Java, Indonesia, by means of stomach-content analysis and feeding experiments. Leaves from the five most abundant mangrove tree species (Aegiceras corniculatum, Avicennia alba, Ceriops decandra, Rhizophora apiculata, and Sonneratia caseolaris) were analyzed for organic carbon, total nitrogen, δ13C, δ15N and amino acids and hexosamines. This study is the first that investigated crab food preferences related to the nitrogen compound composition of leaves.

Our results show that Episesarma spp. and Perisesarma spp. are omnivorous crabs which mainly feed on detritus, mangrove litter and bark, and on a small amount of roots, algae and animal matter whereas M. elegans is a detritus feeder. In feeding experiments with green, yellow and brown leaves Perisesarma spp. and E. singaporense had the highest consumption rates for brown leaves of R. apiculata and S. caseolaris, and for green leaves of A. alba. Preferred leaves were characterized by a high amount and/or freshness of nitrogenous compounds and their biochemical composition was significantly different from that of disliked leaves (all leaves of A. corniculatum and C. decandra, green and yellow leaves of R. apiculata and S. caseolaris). The presence of the hexosamine galactosamine found only in brown leaves indicates that bacteria contribute to the amount of bioavailable nitrogen compounds. We infer that the nitrogen compound composition rather than the C/N ratio alone is a determinant for bioavailability of mangrove leaves and hence may partly explain the crabs' food preferences.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA3, PA4
Research affiliation: Biogeochemistry and Geology > Ecological Biogeochemistry
Ecology > Mangrove Ecology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
ISSN: 13851101
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 16:41
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2024 12:40

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