Nordhaus, Inga, Wolff, Matthias ORCID: and Diele, Karen (2006) Litter processing and population food intake of the mangrove crab Ucides cordatus in a high intertidal forest in northern Brazil. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 67 (1-2). pp. 239-250. DOI

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This study provides the first quantification of the population food intake of the litter-consuming mangrove crab Ucides cordatus (Ocypodidae, L. 1763) in a New World mangrove forest. Diet, feeding periodicity, gastric evacuation rates and size-dependent consumption were determined for this intensively exploited semi-terrestrial crab in different types of mangrove forest.

Unlike many other crabs Ucides cordatus is a continuous feeder, as shown by gastrointestinal contents over a day's cycle. Starvation experiments revealed that most gastric evacuation occurs during the first 12 h after feeding, following an exponential decay function. Evacuation rates (0.35 h−1 and 0.31 h−1) for small (carapace width CW 2.5–3.5 cm) and large (CW 6.5–7.5 cm) crabs, respectively, and the mean daily gastrointestinal contents were used to calculate the daily food intake (DFI) of U. cordatus for both sexes and different size classes. DFI was strongly correlated to body size and ranged from 19.8 to 6.0% of body dry weight in small and large crabs, respectively. The daily energy intake of U. cordatus (37.6 kJ for a 65 g wet weight specimen) was high when compared to other leaf-eating crabs.

Litter fall and propagule production were calculated as 16.38 t ha−1 y−1, corresponding to a daily mean of 4.49 g m−2 in a high intertidal Rhizophora mangle forest stand. The estimated population food intake of Ucides cordatus (4.1 g dw m−2 d−1) corresponds to 81.3% of this production. This high litter removal rate, a low litter quantity in burrows and high consumption rates during field experiments suggest that the local crab population is food-limited in many parts of the study area. The very efficient coupling of forest litter production and crab litter consumption is possible due to the high crab density and the low inundation frequency of the mangrove forests, allowing for prolonged foraging periods. By processing the major part of the litter, U. cordatus helps to retain nutrients and energy within the mangrove ecosystem. The impact of this species on litter turnover in a New World mangrove is similar to or even higher than that of litter-feeding sesarmid crabs in the Indo-West Pacific region.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Ecology > Mangrove Ecology
Integrated Modelling > Resource Management
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
ISSN: 02727714
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2020 16:48
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2024 13:30

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