Association of Epialtus brasiliensis Dana, 1852 (Brachyura, Majoidea) with different species of seaweed
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Seaweed aggregates form secondary substrates on rocky shores, providing habitats for phytal organisms such as the spider crab Epialtus brasiliensis Dana, 1852. This species is one of the most abundant macroinvertebrate component from seaweed communities. Although the literature suggests that E. brasiliensis lives in many species of seaweed, their density has only been reported in communities of Sargassum spp. This study assessed the density of the spider crab E. brasiliensis associated with the seaweed Sargassum cymosum Agardh, 1820, Hypnea musciformis (Wulfen) Lamouroux and Acanthophora spicifera (Vahl) Borgesen. We expected to observe a higher density of E. brasiliensis in S. cymosum, which shows greater morphological complexity, followed by H. musciformis, with intermediate complexity, and then by A. spicifera, with low complexity. We found that the density of these crabs can be as abundant in H. musciformis as has been previously reported for S. cymosum, but in both species, the density was higher than in A. spicifera. Overall, our findings improve the knowledge of the phytal habitats used by E. brasiliensis in rocky shore environments.