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Spatial Distribution and Substratum Preference of the Brachyuran Crab, Macrophthalmus Depressus (Decapoda, Ocypodidae) along the Lower Estuarine Mudflat of Mahi River, Gujarat, India

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The distribution of the ocypodid crab, Macrophthalmus depressus Rüppell, 1830, was studied on the lower intertidal mudflats of the Mahi River estuary of the Gulf of Khambhat, Gujarat, India. Zoning of the study area was done based on coastal morphology and sediment composition. Distribution pattern and density were studied using transect and quadrate sampling methods. Five zones with variable sand, silt, and clay composition could be distinguished perpendicular to the shore line. Zones 1 and 2 represented the upper inter tidal area (≥60% sand), Zones 3 and 4 the mid-inter tidal area (70-80% silt+clay) and Zone 5 the lower inter tidal area (≥50% sand). Quadrant analysis showed the density of M. depressus burrows as follows: Zone 1, no animals present (hence not further included in the study); Zone 2, 28.66±9.86; Zone 3, 83.20±33.87; Zone 4, 62.00±9.16; and Zone 5, 52.50±24.74 individuals per m2. The mean density of the crab varied from 0 to 83 individuals per linear metre along the transect all over the above mentioned zones. The densier distribution in, and thus presumed preference for, Zones 3 and 4 can be attributed to the sediment composition as well as to the slope, which together make the substrate firm and suitable for easy burrow construction. The study revealed a significant correlation between the distribution of Macrophthalmus depressus and these habitat characteristics, thus describing the microhabitat preferences of the species. La distribution du crabe ocypodidé Macrophthalmus depressus Rüppell, 1830, a été étudiée dans les zones intertidales de l'estuaire de la rivière Mahi dans le golfe de Khambhat, Gujarat, Inde. La zonation de l'aire étudiée a été faite sur la base de la morphologie de la côte et de la composition du Sédiment. La distribution et la densité ont été étudiées en utilisant des transects et des quadrats pour l'échantillonnage. Cinq zones avec une composition variable en sable, vase et argile ont pu être distinguées perpendiculairement à la côte. Les Zones 1 et 2 représentent l'aire haute intertidale (70-80% vase + argile), Zones 3 et 4 l'aire moyenne intertidale (≥60% sable), et la Zone 5 l'aire basse intertidale (≥50% sable). Les analyses des quadrats montrent la densité de terriers de M. depressus comme : Zone 1, pas d'animal présent (donc plus inclus dans cette étude) ; Zone 2, 28.66±9.86 ; Zone 3, 83.20±33.87 ; Zone 4, 62.00±9.16 ; et Zone 5, 52.50±24.74 individus par m2. La densité moyenne des crabes varie de 0 à 83 individus par mètre linéaire le long du transect dans toutes les zones mentionnées. La plus dense distribution et donc la préférence pour les Zones 3 et 4 peut être attribuée à la composition du sédiment, ainsi qu'à la pente qui, ensembles, font un substrat ferme et stable propice à une construction facile des terriers. L'étude révèle une corrélation significative entre la distribution de Macrophthalmus depressus et ces habitats caractéristiques, permettant ainsi de décrire la préférence de l'espèce en micro-habitats.

Affiliations: 1: Division of Environment and Toxicology, Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara 390002, Gujarat, India; 2: Division of Environment and Toxicology, Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara 390002, Gujarat, India; or, Email:


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