Longitudinal distribution and lateral pattern of megalopal settlement and juvenile recruitment of Carcinus maenas (L.) (Brachyura, Portunidae) in the Mira River Estuary, Portugal
MetadataShow full item record
Settlement is a critical process in the life history of crabs, and thus affecting the abundance, distribution and structure of estuarine communities. The spatial pattern of settlement of megalopae of the shore crab Carcinus maenas along a longitudinal estuarine gradient (Mira River Estuary, Portugal) was examined, as well as its effects on the juvenile population. To measure megalopal settlement, four replicate collectors were deployed in six equally spaced stations along the estuarine axis. Juveniles were collected on the same locations with a quadrat randomly deployed on the substrate. To assess fine-scale megalopal settlement within a curved region of the estuary, replicate collectors were deployed on both margins along Moinho da Asneira curve. Megalopae settled differently along the six longitudinal points, with a tendency to attenuate their settlement upstream. Within the curved region, megalopae preferentially settled on the left margin collectors, probably due to the weaker velocity speeds felt on this margin. Concerning the overall juvenile density, there were significant differences among the stations distributed along the estuary, but they did no reflect a longitudinal dispersion attenuation pattern. Size-frequency distribution of the juvenile population showed that the average size is higher on the left margin. Recruits (carapace length between 1.0 mm and 3.4 mm) were more abundant on the upstream stations. Density of early juveniles (3.4 mm-6.5 mm) and juveniles (6.5 mm-10 mm) was more stable throughout the estuary axis than that of recruits. This distribution pattern may result from tidal excursion processes or mechanisms to avoid biotic interactions, such as predation and competition. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.