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Negative interactions between two SW Atlantic intertidal crabs in soft-bottom habitats
Martinetto, P.; Valinas, M.; Palomo, G.; Iribarne, O. (2007). Negative interactions between two SW Atlantic intertidal crabs in soft-bottom habitats. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 151(4): 1479-1490.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Martinetto, P.
  • Valinas, M.
  • Palomo, G.
  • Iribarne, O.

    The intertidal crabs Chasmagnathus granulatus and Cyrtograpsus angulatus coexist across the SW Atlantic intertidal. Previous studies in this region suggest that C. granulatus displace C. angulatus in soft sediment, where C. granulatus build burrows (“burrowing beds”). We examined variation in abundance, size-frequency distribution, sex ratio, incidence of autotomies, and diet of both species in C. granulatus crab beds and adjacent areas without burrows. We also experimentally tested the hypothesis that in the absence of C. granulatus, C. angulatus will build burrows. Only large sized individuals of C. angulatus venture into C. granulatus crab beds. The sex ratio of C. angulatus was always biased towards females, with higher bias outside crab beds (1:8 outside, 1:2 inside). Although the items consumed in the crab beds did not differ from those consumed outside, the males of C. angulatus had a higher frequency of empty stomachs in crab beds. The incidence of limb autotomies of C. angulatus was higher outside C. granulatus crab bed areas. After a long rainy period in which C. granulatus was absent from these areas, the pattern of habitat use of C. angulatus changed. During this period C. angulatus showed higher abundance in the areas, where C. granulatus previously constructed burrows, and there were no differences between areas in any of the measured parameters. In the absence of C. granulatus, C. angulatus built their own burrows and never used C. granulatus burrows. The interaction between C. granulatus and C. angulatus may be a good example of competitive exclusion, when the shared resource is the access to surface soft-sediment.

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