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DEPTH LIMITATION OF A TROPICAL INTERTIDAL XANTHID CRAB, CATALEPTODIUS FLORIDANUS, AND A SHALLOW-WATER MAJID, PITHO ACULEATA: RESULTS OF A CAGING EXPERIMENT

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ABSTRACT Cataleptodius floridanus is an abundant (>100 individuals/m2), small, xanthid crab inhabiting intertidal coral rubble on Glover's Reef, Belize, Central America, but it is uncommon in slightly deeper suitable habitats. To test the role of bonefish in limiting the depth distribution of the crab, a wire mesh cage extending from the shore line into deeper water was constructed to exclude bonefish from their normal foraging in the study area. The cage of 12 x 12 mm mesh allowed passage of C. floridanus and other small decapods. After 17 days C. floridanus in "deep" and "medium" depth quadrats inside the cage were more abundant and significantly larger than those in "deep" and "medium" depth quadrats outside the cage. Abundance and size distributions did not differ significantly between crabs collected from shallow quadrats inside and outside the cage. Heavy diurnal predation by bonefish in Belize restricts this species to very shallow water. Pitho aculeata abundance also increased inside the cage.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University. DcKalb, Illinois 60115

10.1163/1937240X84X00066
/content/journals/10.1163/1937240x84x00066
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/content/journals/10.1163/1937240x84x00066
2017-10-23

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