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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT Dehydrated Sesarma reticulatum first "test" water with their setose pereopods before immersing themselves in it. Water is then conducted from the substrate to the branchial chamber by capillary action of closely spaced plumed setae at the bases of pereopods 1-5. In contrast to the case of the ocypodid crabs Ocypode and Uca, there is no negative pressure in the branchial chamber to assist in water uptake. Branchial water flows out of the mouth primarily across the pterygostomial region of the branchiostegite where geniculate setae and pairs of cuticular ridges are present. The face of each ridge is covered by a thin cuticle beneath which is a pore opening to the spongy vascular epithelium of the dorsal branchial chamber. Staining with reduced methylene blue suggests that some gas exchange may occur across the cuticular ridges and that the spongy vascular epithelium may act as a lung. Stout comb setae on the medial surface of the cheliped clean the geniculate setae of the pterygostomial region. The morphology of the cuticular terraces of the lateral, dorsal surface of the carapace and the setae and ridges of the branchiostegal region both aid in returning water to the branchial chamber.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306.


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