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The keystone role of leaf-removing crabs in mangrove forests of North Brazil

The keystone role of leaf-removing crabs in mangrove forests of North Brazil Principle factors which influence mangroveleaf litter turnover, in particular therole of leaf-removing crabs, were evaluatedin a riverine mangrove site nearBragança (Pará, North Brazil). Ourspecial interest was focussed on the roleof the leaf-removing crab Ucidescordatus. Leaf litter fluxes between themangrove forest and the adjacent estuarywere investigated by estimating the biomassand fate of leaf litter material and propagules. Vegetation is dominated by Rhizophora mangle, with Avicenniagerminans trees, both up to 25 m high,found intermittently. During 1997, Rhizophora trees produced around 1.40 gDW m-2 d-1 of leave fall and0.75 g DW m-2 d-1 of propagules.Leaf decomposition rates on the ground wereabout 0.06 g DW m-2 d-1,irrespective of species, habitat or siteexposure. This amount accounts for <3%of total leaf fall. Average leaf litterbiomass present on the ground was 0.01 gDW m-2 d-1. When the mangroveforest was flooded (on average 10 days permonth) the quantity of leaf litterand propagules washed out with the springtide was 10 and 17 times greater thanduring neap tide. Nevertheless, tidalexport and decomposition together made upless than 39 percent of annual leaf litterfall. The bulk of the remaining amount isapparently removed by Ucides. Eachcrab consumed about 1.30 g DW of leaflitter material and propagules per day.Since the average density of these crabswas 1.38 crabs m-2, it is proposedthat Ucides is a keystone species inBragantinian mangroves. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Wetlands Ecology and Management Springer Journals

The keystone role of leaf-removing crabs in mangrove forests of North Brazil

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References (29)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2003 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
Subject
Life Sciences; Freshwater & Marine Ecology; Conservation Biology/Ecology; Environmental Law/Policy/Ecojustice; Marine & Freshwater Sciences; Hydrology/Water Resources; Water Quality/Water Pollution
ISSN
0923-4861
eISSN
1572-9834
DOI
10.1023/A:1025011431984
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Principle factors which influence mangroveleaf litter turnover, in particular therole of leaf-removing crabs, were evaluatedin a riverine mangrove site nearBragança (Pará, North Brazil). Ourspecial interest was focussed on the roleof the leaf-removing crab Ucidescordatus. Leaf litter fluxes between themangrove forest and the adjacent estuarywere investigated by estimating the biomassand fate of leaf litter material and propagules. Vegetation is dominated by Rhizophora mangle, with Avicenniagerminans trees, both up to 25 m high,found intermittently. During 1997, Rhizophora trees produced around 1.40 gDW m-2 d-1 of leave fall and0.75 g DW m-2 d-1 of propagules.Leaf decomposition rates on the ground wereabout 0.06 g DW m-2 d-1,irrespective of species, habitat or siteexposure. This amount accounts for <3%of total leaf fall. Average leaf litterbiomass present on the ground was 0.01 gDW m-2 d-1. When the mangroveforest was flooded (on average 10 days permonth) the quantity of leaf litterand propagules washed out with the springtide was 10 and 17 times greater thanduring neap tide. Nevertheless, tidalexport and decomposition together made upless than 39 percent of annual leaf litterfall. The bulk of the remaining amount isapparently removed by Ucides. Eachcrab consumed about 1.30 g DW of leaflitter material and propagules per day.Since the average density of these crabswas 1.38 crabs m-2, it is proposedthat Ucides is a keystone species inBragantinian mangroves.

Journal

Wetlands Ecology and ManagementSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 8, 2004

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