Implications of habitat-specific growth and physiological condition on juvenile crab population structure

Valter Amaral*, Henrique N. Cabral, José Paula

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Post-settlement processes can regulate the size and structure of marine invertebrate and fish populations. Faster growth and better physiological condition generally increase the survival potential of early juveniles, being usually associated with structurally complex habitats. Successive cohorts of early juvenile Carcinus maenas were followed in sandy and seagrass (Zostera noltii) habitats in the Mira Estuary, Portugal, to estimate growth and physiological condition (evaluated by RNA/DNA ratio) of juvenile populations. Mean cohort growth was similar in both habitats. However, in the sandy habitat, population size structure progressed to cohorts of larger carapace width (CW) and the RNA/DNA ratio was always higher than in the Z. noltii habitat. In this habitat, cohorts of low CW prevailed throughout and RNA/DNA ratio only increased after ∼5.0 mm CW. Higher densities characterising seagrass areas may result in higher competition for resources, limiting growth and condition and leading to dispersal to less populated habitats. Larger juveniles had the best physiological condition, especially early in the season. Seagrass habitats do not necessarily yield enhanced growth rates and physiological condition of early juvenile crabs in relation to sandy areas. Knowledge of such trends is vital to understand distribution and abundance patterns of fish and marine invertebrate populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-734
Number of pages9
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Volume59
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • Estuarine
  • Habitat quality
  • NanoDrop
  • Nucleic acids
  • Population dynamics

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