On the population biology of the mottled shore crab Pachygrapsus transversus (Gibbes, 1850) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) in a subtropical area
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The mottled shore crab P. transversus is probably the most common brachyuran crab living in the marine rocky intertidal of southeastern Brazil. However, its biology is largely unknown. In this study, some aspects of the population biology of this species are investigated. Distribution of individuals in the intertidal range is heterogeneous. Sabellariid worm reefs and mytilid mussel beds can be considered as nursery grounds retaining most part of juveniles, while the rocky surface is mostly inhabited by adults, which find safety shelters in rock crevices. Annual size frequency distributions revealed clues of population stability and indicated that young individuals reach the adult habitat in a gradual process. Sex-ratio follows the 1:1 proportion in smaller size classes but is biased towards males in larger ones. Higher mortality in larger females is indicated as a possible cause of this pattern. Ovigerous ratio shows a remarkable seasonality in which highest percentages of ovigerous females occur during summer months, while recruitment of young is more intense from April to July, suggesting a very extensive larval development. Once established in the intertidal zone, young recruits will develop to mature individuals in late spring, when molting crabs become scarce and proportion of breeding females increases. Therefore, growth and reproduction are in a great part temporally separated, allowing an annual life cycle in which settlement, growth and breeding may take place within a I-yr period.