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Patterns of juvenile habitat use by the spider crab Maja brachydactyla as revealed by stable isotope analyses
Freire, J.; Carabel, S.; Verísimo, P.; Bernárdez, C.; Fernández, L. (2009). Patterns of juvenile habitat use by the spider crab Maja brachydactyla as revealed by stable isotope analyses. Sci. Mar. (Barc.) 73(1): 39-49
In: Scientia Marina (Barcelona). Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Institut de Ciènces del Mar: Barcelona. ISSN 0214-8358, more
Peer reviewed article

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Keywords
    Feeding; Food webs; Life history; Marine crustaceans; Stable isotopes; Trophic level; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Freire, J.
  • Carabel, S.
  • Verísimo, P.
  • Bernárdez, C.
  • Fernández, L.

Abstract
    Patterns of habitat use by spider crab juveniles, Maja brachydactyla, from two geographic areas on the NW coast of the Iberian Peninsula were studied through the analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope relations in muscle and hepatopancreas. Main potential preys of spider crab juveniles in rocky and sandy habitats and different organic matter sources in coastal food webs were also analysed. Isotopic ratios showed no difference between rocky and sandy habitats. The use of carapace colour and epibiosis as an indicator of habitat use was not supported by our data. These results suggest that movements between the two habitats are much more frequent than suggested in previous studies. In the coastal food web, two main trophic compartments were identified according to their organic matter source: one based on plankton and seaweeds (rocky habitats), and one based on sedimentary particulate organic matter (sandy bottoms). By means of the model of Phillips and Gregg (2003), it was found that juveniles of Maja brachydactyla from both habitats consumed approximately two thirds of the preys in rocky habitats and one third in sedimentary habitats. The results indicate that in exposed environments large juveniles spend most of the time on sedimentary bottoms, where they find more refuge, moving frequently to nearby rocky substrates to feed.

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