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Diet Composition of Five Species of Crabs (Decapoda, Brachyura) that Show a Gradual Transition from Marine to Terrestrial Life

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image of Crustaceana

In order to investigate possible changes in the natural diet of brachyurans during their gradual transition from marine to terrestrial life, the natural diet of five species of Brachyura (Liocarcinus depurator, Portumnus latipes, Portumnus lysianassa, Pachygrapsus marmoratus, and Ocypode cursor), living in different habitats (in Greece and in Cyprus), with a gradation from sea to land, was studied.

The circalittoral species, L. depurator mainly feeds on macroinvertebrates (Polychaeta, Crustacea, Mollusca) and Pisces, living in or near muddy bottoms. The diet of the infralittoral crab, P. latipes is mainly based on Polychaeta, Crustacea, and drifting macroalgae, while the same prey groups dominate in the diet of the soft substratum midlittoral crab, P. lysianassa. The diet of the latter is also supplemented with insects of terrestrial origin. The hard substratum midlittoral crab P. marmoratus mainly feeds on Polychaeta, macroalgae, and secondarily on Crustacea and Mollusca. Finally, the semi-terrestrial crab, O. cursor has a diet different from that of the other four species, since it mainly feeds on insects, i.e., terrestrial invertebrates.

Multidimensional analysis detected statistically significant differences in the diet composition of the five species studied. These differences should be attributed to the dissimilarity of the available trophic resources in the corresponding habitats of these species, as a result of their gradual trend from sea to land. Dans le but d'étudier les possibles variations du régime alimentaire naturel de Brachyoures durant la transition graduelle entre espèces marines et terrestres, le régime naturel de cinq espèces de Brachyoures (Liocarcinus depurator, Portumnus latipes, Portumnus lysianassa, Pachygrapsus marmoratus et Ocypode cursor), vivant dans différents habitats (en Grèce et en Chypre), avec une gradation de la mer vers la terre, a été étudié.

L'espèce circa-littorale L. depurator, se nourrit surtout de macro-invertébrés (Polychètes, Crustacés, Mollusques) et de poissons vivant dans ou près du sol vaseux. Le régime du crabe infralittoral P. latipes est surtout basé sur des Polychètes, Crustacés et des macro-algues dérivantes, alors que le même groupe de proies domine dans le régime du crabe mid-littoral P. lysianassa de substrat mou. Le régime de ce dernier est aussi complété avec des insectes d'origine terrestre. Le crabe mid-littoral P. marmoratus de substrat dur, s'alimente surtout de Polychètes, macro-algues, et secondairement de Crustacés et Mollusques. Finalement le crabe semi-terrestre, O. cursor a un régime différent de celui des quatre autres espèces, puisqu'il se nourrit d'insectes, i.e., d'invertébrés terrestres.

Des analyses multidimensionnelles ont détecté des différences statistiques dans la composition du régime des cinq espèces étudiées. Ces différences peuvent être attribuées à la différence des ressources trophiques disponibles dans les habitats correspondants de ces espèces, un résultat de leur transition graduelle de la mer vers la terre.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, School of Biology, Aristoteleio University of Thessaloniki, GR-541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece; or:, Email:; 2: Department of Zoology, School of Biology, Aristoteleio University of Thessaloniki, GR-541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece


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