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Effects of urban wastewater on crab and mollusc assemblages in equatorial and subtropical mangroves of East Africa
Cannicci, S.; Bartolini, F.; Dahdouh-Guebas, F.; Fratini, S.; Litulo, C.; Macia, A.; Mrabu, E.J.; Penha-Lopes, G.; Paula, J. (2009). Effects of urban wastewater on crab and mollusc assemblages in equatorial and subtropical mangroves of East Africa. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 84(3): 305-317.
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 230727 [ OMA ]

    Potamididae H. Adams & A. Adams, 1854 [WoRMS]; Sesarmidae Dana, 1851 [WoRMS]; Uca Leach, 1814 [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Mangrove macrobenthos; Uca spp.; Sesarmidae; Potamididae; sewage

Authors  Top 
  • Cannicci, S.
  • Bartolini, F.
  • Dahdouh-Guebas, F., more
  • Fratini, S.
  • Litulo, C.
  • Macia, A.
  • Mrabu, E.J.
  • Penha-Lopes, G.
  • Paula, J.

    Mangrove forests are known to accomplish crucial ecosystem functions and services. They are nursery areas for fish, prawns and crabs, which provide coastal communities with a variety of food, timber and chemicals, and protect coasts from catastrophic events, such as tsunamis. Recently, a novel ecological service has been proposed for mangrove systems, namely natural wastewater treatment wetlands. This hypothesis was based on experimental data collected mainly in Chinese mangrove systems, which proved that mangrove soils were efficient in absorbing nutrients. Moreover, sewage loading seemed harmless to both plants and benthic communities in these systems. However, before promoting the use of natural mangroves as pollution buffers, or constructed mangrove wetlands as sewage treatment facilities, more data are needed on their overall tolerance to organic loading. Differences in macro-benthos patterns were thus investigated between peri-urban mangroves and sites not affected by sewage disposal in East Africa. We assessed differences in epifaunal assemblages, comprising crabs and molluscs, employing multivariate ACI unbalanced analyses to compare peri-urban mangrove swamps with those characteristic of non-urban mangroves with similar ecological traits. The sampling design was spatially nested, replicates being assessed at equatorial (southern Kenya) and subtropical (southern Mozambique) sites. The results manifested a consistent increase in crab biomass at the peri-urban sites in both Kenya and Mozambique. Moreover, the peri-urban systems were richer than the non-urban mangroves, both in terms of fiddler crabs (Uca spp.) which feed on benthic microalgae and bacteria, and sesarmids, such as Penisesarma guttatum and Neosarmatium meinerti, which feed on both substratum and leaf litter. The abundance of gastropods, in contrast, decreased significantly, especially in Kenya, mainly due to the disappearance of the mud whelk Terebralia palustris. The results thus indicate that, in East African mangrove systems, domestic wastewater has detectable effects on crabs and molluscs, suggesting their usefulness as bioindicators of its effects in mangroves. Transformed benthic patterns at the peri-urban sites indicated the need for further study of the actual potential of natural mangrove forests to absorb pollution in sewage treatment.

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