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Association of microhabitat variables with the abundance and distribution of two neotropical freshwater decapods (Anomura: Brachyura)

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Freshwater decapods occupy a wide range of habitats in lotic and lentic systems, but there are few studies associating microhabitat and interspecific interactions with their presence and abundance. We investigated the association of physical and chemical microhabitat variables with the abundance and distribution of two decapod species, Aegla longirsotri (Anomura, Aeglidae) and Trichodactylus panoplus (Brachyura, Trychodactylidae), in the Vacacaí-Mirim River, southern Brazil. Possible effects of intra- and interspecific competition between species were also investigated by comparing the distribution these two species. Aegla longirostri was more abundant than T. panoplus in the study area, but the distribution of A. longirostri was limited to less impacted areas, whereas T. panoplus was present in both impacted and pristine areas. Substrate type, temperature, and conductivity strongly correlate with the abundance of juveniles of A. longirostri, which suggests that this species has particular microhabitat requirements. In contrast, the distribution of T. panoplus was not associated with any measured environmental variable, but was negatively correlated with the abundance of adults of A. longirostri. Aegla longirostri has a higher degree of habitat specialization and is a stronger competitor than T. panoplus. The outcome of interspecific competition is associated with species specificity for a microhabitat, and the ability to exclude competitors from those areas where they are best adapted to survive and reproduce. In view of global climate change, such information could provide tools for the management and conservation of freshwater decapods.

Affiliations: 1: 1Departamento de Ecologia e Evolução, Centro de Ciências Naturais e Exatas, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Avenida Roraima 1000, 97105-900 Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; 2: 2Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação da Biodiversidade, Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso, Avenida Fernando Corrêa 2367, Bairro Boa Esperança, 78060-900 Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil


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