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Stratified settlement and moulting competency of brachyuran megalopae in Ponta Rasa mangrove swamp, Inhaca Island (Mozambique)

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J Paula, Maria Dornelas, A A V Flores

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Information on recruitment processes of mangrove crustaceans is very limited, in spite of the great importance of these environments for the coastal zone. This study describes the settlement patterns of brachyuran crabs at Ponta Rasa mangrove swamp, Inhaca Island, in order to assess if settlement patterns reflect adult distribution. Hoghair filter collectors were deployed at different strata within the mangrove, and at the adjacent intertidal flat as control. Sampling was conducted daily for a period of 82 days. The collected megalopae were reared in the laboratory to assess their moulting competency and to enable identification. Settlement intensity was tested for association with wind stress, from different directions and averaged over time lags up to 6 days. A total of 960 megalopae settled during this study. Only 8% of the megalopae that settled at the control site belonged to mangrove dwelling species. Settlers inside Ponta Rasa swamp were exclusively mangrove species. Ilyograpsus paludicola settled mainly among Rhizophora mucrouata and the mixed area of Ceriops tagal and Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, where adults occur, and Perisesarma guttatum, the most abundant sesarmid at Ponta Rasa, settled mainly at the creek. Neosarmatium meinerti settled among Avicennia marina pnematophores, very close to the adult populations. Megalopae of mangrove taxa that settled outside the mangrove took longer to moult than the ones settling inside the swamp. In the intertidal areas of the mangrove, settlers took in average 1-2 days to moult, whereas in subtidal areas time to moult was in average 3-5 days. Thus, both distribution of settlers and moulting competency suggest that settling follows adult distribution. Tides have a strong influence on settlement at Ponta Rasa, with the effect that, due to the high sill at the entrance, neap tides do not penetrate the mangrove. The analysis of settlement data suggested a significant effect of wind-driven transport on onshore migration. There is however no obvious interpretation for the pattern observed. Probably, the distribution of different larval patches and the complex dynamic structure of currents within Maputo Bay and adjacent areas influence the settlement pattern. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-337
Number of pages13
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003

    Research areas

  • settlement, moulting competency, mangrove, brachyuran crabs, megalopa, Inhaca Island , crab callinectes-sapidus, Gulf ofMexico, Dungeness crab, York-River, cancer magister, carcinus maenas, Chesapeake Bay, Artificial collectors, population dynamics, larval recruitment

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