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Vertical migrations in the tree crab Sesarma leptosome (Decapoda, Grapsidae)
Vannini, M.; Ruwa, R. K. (1994). Vertical migrations in the tree crab Sesarma leptosome (Decapoda, Grapsidae). Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 118(2): 271-278. dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00349794
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Keyword
    Sesarma leptosoma Hilgendorf, 1869 [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    observations, vertical migration

Authors  Top 
  • Vannini, M., more
  • Ruwa, R. K.

Abstract
    Sesarma leptosome, somewhat similar to the Atlantic related species, Aratus pisonii, is an East-African mangrove crab which spends its entire life on the roots and branches of mangrove trees (mostly Rhizophora mucronata, Bruguiera gymnorhiza and Ceriops tagal). S. leptosome never enters the water, nor does it ever venture onto the free mud surface at low tide. Part of the day and night it remains on the lower parts of the mangrove aerial roots, which are often encrusted with a wet algal mat of Bostrichia spp., searching for food and water. Twice a day, from ca. 06:00 to 08:00 hrs in the morning and 16:00 to 18:00 hrs in the afternoon, many of the crabs migrate as far as the leaves at the top of the tree on which they feed. However, they only spend a brief period among the leaves, from ca. 07:00 to 10:00 and 17:00 to 19:00 hrs, after which time they make their way back towards the roots again in two downward migrations. In the morning, the downward migration brings all the crabs back to the roots, but in the evening not all the crabs take part in the downwards migration and some of them pass the whole night in the tree tops. A comparison of the migration time patterns for two different periods of the year (June–July and November) shows that the number of crabs migrating along the tree trunk is modulated by the spring-neap tidal cycle, while the onset of daily migration seems to be controlled mostly by the light level and/or other climatological cues. The adaptive significance of this migratory behaviour is discussed. Observations reported in our study were made in Mida Creek, Dabaso, Kenya in 1991 and 1992.

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