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NICHE PREFERENCES OF TREE-CLIMBING CRABS IN SINGAPORE MANGROVES

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Six species of crabs are known to climb mangrove trees in Singapore: the non-burrowing Selatium brockii, Metopograpsus gracilipes, and M. latifrons, and the burrowing Episesarma spp.: E. versicolor, E. chengtongense, and E. singaporense. Despite the apparent spatial overlap of their habitat, an examination of the diet, distribution in the mangrove, and spatial strategy of these crabs reveals that members of the three genera occupy different niches. The algivorous treedwelling S. brockii and algivorous habitual tree-climbing Metopograpsus spp. are mainly found in the sandbank zone, whereas the herbivorous, facultatively tree-climbing Episesarma spp. dominate the main forest and the mud lobster mound system.

Six especes de crabes sont connues comme grimpant aux arbres de mangrove a Singapour: Selatium brockii, Metopograpsus gracilipes et M. latifrons qui ne creusent pas de terriers et les especes de Episesarma qui, elles, en font: E. versicolor, E. chengtongense, et E. singaporense. Malgre le recouvrement spatial apparent de leur habitat, un examen de leur regime alimentaire, de leur repartition dans la mangrove et de la strategie spatiale de ces crabes, revele que les membres des trois genres occupent des niches differentes. L'espece S. brockii, algivore et arboricole et Metopograpsus spp. egalement algivore et grimpant habituellement aux arbres se rencontrent principalement dans la zone des bancs de sables tandis que les Sesarma spp., herbivores et grimpant occasionnellement aux arbres dominent dans la foret et la region des monticules construit par les thalassinides.

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