Effects of vegetation and sewage load on mangrove crab condition using experimental mesocosms

Valter Amaral*, Gil Penha-Lopes, José Paula

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Constructed wetlands, especially mangroves, have been studied for their usefulness in sewage treatment but the effects of mangrove vegetation and a sewage load on mangrove macrofauna have been given little attention. Ocypodid crabs are important components of mangrove forests and constitute good bioindicators of the functioning of the ecosystem as a whole. In constructed mangrove mesocosms, three vegetation treatments (bare substratum, and Avicennia marina and Rhizophora mucronata seedlings) were subjected to 0, 20, 60 and 100% sewage loads from a nearby hotel. The physiological condition of introduced Uca annulipes and Uca inversa was evaluated in terms of their RNA/DNA ratio after one, five and twelve months, and used as an indicator of ecological function in the system. Crab condition in 0% sewage load was similar to that of wild crabs throughout, suggesting no significant effects of the mesocosms on their RNA/DNA ratio. Overall, both species coped well with the administered sewage loads, suggesting good ecological function in the system. Both species manifested similar patterns in RNA/DNA ratio, being more affected by seasonal fluctuations than by sewage load and vegetation presence and type. Higher RNA/DNA ratios were recorded in the long compared to the short rainy season. Sewage enhanced crab condition in the bare substratum and R. mucronata treatments, especially after one year, probably as a result of enhanced food availability. Uca inversa may be more sensitive to sewage pollution than U. annulipes. In A. marina, no difference in crab condition was observed between sewage loads, and this mangrove yielded the best reduction in sewage impacts. Our results support the usefulness of constructed mangrove areas in sewage treatment, especially if planted with A. marina and inhabited by physiologically healthy ocypodid crabs to enhance the system's performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-304
Number of pages5
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2009


  • ecosystem functioning
  • mangroves
  • ocypodidae
  • RNA/DNA ratio
  • Tanzania
  • wastewater treatment


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