Comparison of the population biology of Epialtus bituberculatus from two rocky shores with distinct hydrodynamic patterns
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The population biology of Epialtus bituberculatus was compared between two different intertidal localities with differing levels of wave exposure. Sampling was conducted monthly between January and December, 2001 on seaweed banks of Sargassum cymosum in the intertidal zone of the rocky shores Grande (GR) (23°23′S-45°03′W) and Domingas Dias (DD) (23°29′S-45°08′W). Four hundred and twenty-eight crabs were captured at the GR site: 111 juvenile males, 106 adult males, 57 juvenile females, 17 adult females and 137 ovigerous females; while 455 specimens were obtained at the DD site: 76 juvenile males, 113 adult males, 37 juvenile females, 40 adult females and 189 ovigerous females. The population from GR showed a non-normal distribution and from DD a normal distribution. The sex-ratio (female/male) was 1:0.97 at GR (χ2 = 0.77, P = 0.084), whereas it was 1:1.41 at DD (χ2 = 13.03, P < 0.001). The largest individuals occurred at DD (U = 78249.0, P < 0.001). The estimated size at sexual maturity was 6.3 and 5.0 mm carapace width (CW) for males, and 5.4 and 5.2 mm CW for females, from GR and DD, respectively. The observed differences in E. bituberculatus between the studied localities might be explained by the different degrees of wave exposure between sites. However, other factors that might also explain the observed differences (e.g. temperature, salinity and food availability) cannot be discarded as relevant in influencing the population structure between sites herein studied. © 2012 Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.