Marine Biology

, Volume 126, Issue 2, pp 297–311 | Cite as

Feeding ecology of Liocarcinus depurator (Decapoda: Portunidae) in the Ria de Arousa (Galicia, north-west Spain): effects of habitat, season and life history

  • J. Freire


The diet of the portunid crab Liocarcinus depurator (L.) in soft-bottom areas of the Ría de Arousa (Galicia, north-west Spain) was studied by analysis of stomach contents, and by comparison of habitats of contrasting abundance, composition and diversity of prey communities. Monthly samples were taken from July 1989 to June 1990 (N=3747) in mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) raft-culture areas and central channel zones. Ninety-two food items were identified: crustaceans, molluscs, polychaetes, ophiuroids and fishes were the dominant prey. The raft epifauna and the mussels constituted the dominant group of prey in the raft areas and inner channel station (the epifaunal crab Pisidia longicornis comprised 30 to 52% of the diet), whereas the benthic macroinfauna was the dominant food component in the mid-outer channel (polychaetes constituted 32% of the diet). In the epifaunal community, diet selection for P. longicornis was positive and for amphipods was negative, whereas within the infauna diet selection for bivalves and ophiuroids was positive and for polychaetes negative or neutral. The seasonal importance of P. longicornis and M. galloprovincialis varied in the diet of L. depurator parallel to seasonal activities connected with mussel culture (seeding, thinning, harvesting) that determine the availability of prey from the rafts. Major changes in the composition of the diet related to the life history of L. depurator occurred during ontogeny. In the raft zones, consumption of mussels and fishes increased with increasing body size, while the consumption of Natantia, non-decapod crustaceans, gastropods, polychaetes Pectinariidae and plants decreased with increasing crab size. Maximum consumption of P. longicornis was by L. depurator individuals of intermediate size (15 to 44 mm carapace width). Stomach fullness (measured as dry weight of food) increased with increasing body size, but with negative allometry. During the late pre-moult and early post-moult periods L. depurator did not consume any food; maximum stomach fullness was recorded for the late post-moult and intermoult stages. Female food consumption decreased during egg incubation. Food consumption was greater in autumn and winter than at other seasons; this appears to be related to seasonal changes in reproduction and moulting.


Polychaete Carapace Width Stomach Fullness Increase Body Size Diet Selection 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Freire
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Bioloxía Animal, Bioloxía Vexetale EcoloxíaUniversidade da CoruñaA CoruñaSpain

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