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Diet and Fecundity of Columbus Crabs, Planes Minutus, Associated with Oceanic-Stage Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Caretta Caretta, and Inanimate Flotsam

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Abstract The digestive tract contents of 85 Columbus crabs, Planes minutus, are presented. Crabs were collected from oceanic-stage loggerhead turtles, Carettta caretta, and inanimate flotsam near the Azores. The numbers of eggs carried by ovigerous crabs (n = 28) are also presented. Numbers of eggs between turtle crabs and flotsam crabs were similar. Dietary analysis yielded 11 food types from P. minutus. Crabs from turtles contained a higher diversity of food items than crabs from inanimate flotsam. The diet of P. minutus was composed primarily of neustonic invertebrates and algae—similar to prey items found from oceanic-stage loggerhead turtles in past studies. The types of food consumed by P. minutus suggest that crabs may obtain food by consuming other epibionts, by hunting neuston from their substrate, or by capturing food particles expelled by host turtles.

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Affiliations: 1: (MF, correspondence; KW) Caretta Research Project, P.O. Box 9841, Savannah, Georgia 31412, U.S.A. (MF:; (AB, KB) Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, Department of Zoology, University of Florida, P.O. Box 118525, Gainesville, Florida 32611, U.S.A. (HM) Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, University of the Azores, PT-9901-862 Horta, Azores, Portugal


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