tree crab

Mangrove crab

Mangrove crabs are crabs that live among mangroves, and may belong to many different species and even families. They have been shown to be ecologically significant in many ways. They keep much of the energy within the forest by burying and consuming leaf litter. Furthermore, their feces may form the basis of a coprophagous food chain contributing to mangrove secondary production (Lee, 1997; Gillikin et al., 2001). As mentioned in Robertson et al. (1992), crab larvae are the major source of food for juvenile fish inhabiting the adjacent waterways, indicating that crabs also help nearshore fisheries. The crabs themselves are food for threatened species such as the Crab Plover (Seys et al., 1995; Zimmerman et al., 1996). Their burrows alter the topography and sediment grain size of the mangrove (Warren and Underwood, 1986) and help aerate the sediment (Ridd, 1996). Smith et al. (1991) found that removing crabs from an area caused significant increases in sulfides and ammonium concentrations, which in turn affects the productivity and reproductive output of the vegetation. Their findings support the hypothesis that mangrove crabs are a keystone species. (for cited references see www.mangrovecrabs.com).

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