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Habitat harshness and morphodynamics: life history traits of the mole crab Emerita brasiliensis in Uruguayan sandy beaches
Celentano, E.; Defeo, O. (2006). Habitat harshness and morphodynamics: life history traits of the mole crab Emerita brasiliensis in Uruguayan sandy beaches. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 149(6): 1453-1461.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Celentano, E.
  • Defeo, O.

    The habitat harshness hypothesis (HHH) postulates that in reflective beaches the harsh environment forces organisms to divert more energy towards maintenance and they therefore have lower abundance, fecundity, growth and survival rates than in dissipative beaches. Recent investigations have tested this hypothesis through single comparisons of only two beaches, and thus the observed trends in population level variables cannot be attributed incontestably to the beach state, but only to location. Here, abundance, reproduction, recruitment, population structure and body size of the intertidal mole crab Emerita brasiliensis were compared between populations from eight microtidal exposed sandy beaches with contrasting morphodynamics, sampled bimonthly during 22 months throughout the 180 km Uruguayan Atlantic coast. Physical variables and compound indices of the beach state were used to categorize sandy beaches. The results of this bi-annual large-scale analysis were fully consistent with the predictions of the HHH: abundance (total and population components), duration of the reproduction and recruitment seasons and the individual size of megalops and females of the mole crab E. brasiliensis decreased from dissipative to reflective beaches. This was reflected by linear or, mostly, nonlinear relationships between biological and both physical variables and compound indices of beach state. In conclusion, this multi-beach sampling provides compelling evidence of a consistent response of demographic and life history traits of an intertidal beach species to morphodynamic characteristics.

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