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Branch-fidelity in the tree crab Sesarma leptosoma (Decapoda, Grapsidae)
Cannicci, S.; Ruwa, R. K.; Ritossa, S.; Vannini, M. (1996). Branch-fidelity in the tree crab Sesarma leptosoma (Decapoda, Grapsidae). J. Zool. (1987) 238: 795-801. hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1996.tb05431.x
In: Journal of Zoology (1987). Zoological Society of London: London. ISSN 0952-8369, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Mangrove swamps; Rhizophora mucronata Lamk. [WoRMS]; Sesarma leptosoma Hilgendorf, 1869 [WoRMS]; East Africa; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Cannicci, S., more
  • Ruwa, R. K., more
  • Ritossa, S.
  • Vannini, M., more

Abstract
    Sesarma leptosoma is the only species of crab inhabiting the mangrove swamps of East Africa which can climb to the top of tail mature trees, where it feeds on fresh leaves. Twice daily, in the morning and evening, this crab performs mass migrations towards the canopy and spends about three hours on the tree-tops. At dusk it descends to spend the night among the aerial roots of the tree. Two observation stations were built on a Rhizophora mucronata tree, up to 13 metres above ground level, to observe and record the feeding and spatial aspects of the behaviour of this species during its time in the canopy. Observations on the daily migrations of marked specimens showed that the crabs are faithful to a well-defined feeding site; moreover, the migration paths of the marked specimens were exceptionally constant over the whole of the two-month study period. S. leptosoma was observed to feed on mature fresh leaves by scraping the lower surface of the leaf with its chelae. It was also found to spend most of its time on leaf-buds in a particular stage of development. Water which accumulates among the scales covering these buds represents an important water supply for these crabs, which they presumably use to reduce physiological stress due to water loss. Feeding-site fidelity in S. leptosoma seems to be related more to the chance of finding suitable leaf-buds, which are relatively rare and patchily distributed, than finding leaves, which are abundant and uniformly distributed all over the canopy.

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