Simith, Darlan J.B. and Diele, Karen (2008) Metamorphosis of mangrove crab megalopae, Ucides cordatus (Ocypodidae): Effects of interspecific versus intraspecific settlement cues. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 362 (2). pp. 101-107. DOI

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It has recently been shown that metamorphosis of Ucides cordatus megalopae is triggered by substrata from the mangrove forest habitat, and, in particular, adult conspecific odours. Here we demonstrate that the gender of the odour-emitting crabs is insignificant for the metamorphic response in this species. We further investigate whether other estuarine crabs (Goniopsis cruentata, Uca spp., and Callinectes danae) also induce settlement and metamorphosis of U. cordatus megalopae. This is of special interest for population recovery in areas hit by lethargic crab disease (LCD), a fungus that selectively kills U. cordatus but not co-occurring species. Ucides megalopae were reared in four treatments with interspecific-conditioned seawater and tested against the effects of conspecific-conditioned seawater (positive control) and pure seawater (negative control). All megalopae in the positive control metamorphosed successfully, while only one (2%) moulted in the negative control, with a delay of 10 days compared with the latest metamorphosis in the former treatment. In seawater conditioned with U. maracoani and C. danae, which occur on sediment banks and in tidal creeks respectively, all larvae died before reaching the juvenile stage. In the treatments with odours of species that share the same mangrove forest microhabitat as U. cordatus, i.e. G. cruentata and a group of five fiddler crab species (mixed-odour treatment), 20 and 10% respectively of the megalopae moulted with a delay of up to 11 days. No specimens metamorphosed after day 39, but megalopae lived up to 93 days. Since only the conspecific- and coexisting-species treatments stimulated development, we hypothesize that Ucides megalopae are able to precisely identify species-habitat-specific settlement cues. This will be investigated in more detail in future studies, which will also test the effects of the odours of the five forest fiddler crab species separately. The impact of the interspecific odour treatments was much smaller than that of the conspecific odours, nevertheless elevated moulting rates of up to 18% relative to seawater may still significantly accelerate the repopulation of U. cordatus in areas lacking conspecifics, e.g. after massive crab mortalities or at first colonization.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Ecology > Mangrove Ecology
Affiliations > Not ZMT
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.:
ISSN: 00220981
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2020 11:39
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 13:00

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