Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Studies on portunid crabs from the Eastern Pacific. I. Zonation along environmental stress gradients from the Coast of Colombia

  • 103 Accesses

  • 15 Citations


East Pacific swimming crabs are poorly known ecologically. We trawled samples along 4 estuarine-continental shelf transects to provide information on the population structure and species composition of portunids along environmental stress gradients. Portunids comprised almost 99% of the benthic crabs. Callinectes toxotes dominates the freshest estuarine areas, but is replaced by C. arcuatus in estuary mouth and shallow-shelf samples. Deeper shelf samples are dominated by Euphylax robustus and Portunus sper. Great numbers of E. dovii, a pelagic species, were taken on the shelf; their size distribution implies intraspecific competition. Evidence is given that differences in salinity tolerance account for differential landward limits, but competition, predation by fishes, increased fouling and decreased available food exclude eurytopic species from physicochemically equable shelf waters.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Literature Cited

  1. Abele, L.G.: Comparative habitat diversity and faunal relationships between the Pacific and Caribbean Panamanian decapod Crustacea: a preliminary report, with some remarks on the crustacean fauna of Panama. Bull. biol. Soc. Wash. 1972, 125–138 (1972)

  2. Coker, R.E.: Notes on a species of barnacle (Dichelaspis) parasitic on the gills of edible crabs. Bull. U.S. Fish Commn 21, 401–412 (1901)

  3. Connell, J.H.: The influence of interspecific competition and other factors on the distribution of the barnacle Chthamalus stellatus. Ecology 42, 710–723 (1961)

  4. —: Some mechanisms producing structure in natural communities: a model and evidence from field experiments. In: Ecology and evolution of communities, pp 460–490. Ed. by M.L. Cody and J.M. Diamond. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 1975

  5. Daniels, B.A. and R.T. Sawyer: The biology of the leech Myzobdella lugubris infesting blue crabs and catfish. Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab., Woods Hole 148, 193–198 (1975)

  6. Darnell, R.M.: Food habits of fishes and larger invertebrates of Lake Ponchartrain, Louisiana, an estuarine community. Publs Inst. mar. Sci. Univ. Tex. 5, 353–416 (1958)

  7. De Turk, W.E.: The parasites and commensals of some crabs at Beaufort, North Carolina, 105 pp. Ph.D thesis, Duke University 1940

  8. Dyer, K.R.: Sedimentation in estuaries. In: The estuarine environment, pp 10–32. Ed. by R.S.K. Barnes and J. Green. London: Applied Science Publishers 1972

  9. Estevez, M.: Estudio preliminar sobre la biologia de dos especies alopatricas de cangrejos brachyrhyncha del Pacífico Colombiano. Museo Mar (Univ. Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Fac. Ciênc. Mar) 4, 1–17 (1972)

  10. Garth, J.S. and W. Stephenson: Brachyura of the Pacific Coast of America Brachrhyncha: Portunidae. Allan Hancock Monogr. mar. Biol. 1, 1–154 (1966)

  11. Gibbs, R.J.: Circulation in the Amazon River estuary and adjacent Atlantic Ocean. J. mar. Res. 28, 113–123 (1970)

  12. Hughes, R.N. and M.L.H. Thomas: The classification and ordination of shallow water benthic samples from Prince Edward Island, Canada. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 7, 1–39 (1971)

  13. Humes, A.G.: Notes on Octolasmis mülleri (Coker), a barnacle commensal on crabs. Trans. Am. microsc. Soc. 60, 101–103 (1941)

  14. Jackson, J.B.C.: The ecology of the molluscs of Thalassia communities, Jamaica, West Indies. II. Molluscan population variability along an environmental stress gradient. Mar. Biol. 14, 304–337 (1972)

  15. —: The ecology of molluscs of Thalassia communities, Jamaica, West Indies. I. Distribution, environmental physiology and ecology of common shallow-water species. Bull. mar. Sci. 23, 313–350 (1973)

  16. Jerde, C.W.: Further notes on the distribution of Portunus xantusii affinis and Euphylax dovii (Decapoda Brachyura Portunidae) in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Crustaceana 19, 84–88 (1970)

  17. Kamemoto, F.I. and K.N. Kato: The osmotic and chloride regulative capacities of five Hawaiian decapod cristaceans. Pacif. Sci. 23, 232–237 (1969)

  18. Menge, B.A. and J.P. Sutherland: Species diversity gradients: synthesis of the roles of predation, competition, and temporal heterogeneity. Am. Nat. 110, 351–369 (1976)

  19. Menzel, R.W.: Report on preliminary studies of the blue crab in Alligator Harbor and adjacent Gulf of Mexico with some observations on stone crab larvae, 17 pp. Unpublished report, Florida State University Oceanographic Institute 1964

  20. Newcombe, C., M.D. Sandoz and R. Rogers-Talbert: Differential growth and moulting characteristics of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun. J. exp. Zool. 110, 113–152 (1949)

  21. Norse, E.A.: The ecology of blue crabs, genus Callinectes (Brachyura: Portunidae) in the Caribbean, 259 pp. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southern California 1975

  22. — and V. Fox-Norse: Studies on portunid crabs from the Eastern Pacific. II. Significance of the unusual distribution of Euphylax dovii. Mar. Biol. 40, 374–376 (1977)

  23. Odum, W.E. and E.J. Heald: Trophic analyses of an estuarine mangrove community. Bull. mar. Sci. 22, 671–738 (1972)

  24. Pearse, A.S.: Observations on certain littoral and terrestrial animals at Tortugas, Florida, with special reference to migrations from marine to terrestrial habitats. Pap. Tortugas Lab. 26, 205–223 (1929)

  25. —: Observations on the occurrence of certain barnacles and isopods at Beaufort, N.C. J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 37, 325–328 (1947)

  26. Sanders, H.L.: Benthic marine diversity and the stability-time hypothesis. Brookhaven Symp. Biol. 22, 71–81 (1969)

  27. Sandoz, M. and R. Rogers: The effect of environmental factors on hatching, molting and survival of zoea larvae of the blue crab Callinectes sapidus Rathbun. Ecology 25, 216–228 (1944)

  28. Schoener, T.W.: Size patterns in West Indian Anolis lizards: I. Size and species diversity. Syst. Zool. 18, 386–401 (1969)

  29. Segerstråle, S.G.: The competition factor and the fauna of the Baltic Sea. Limnologica, Berlin 7, 99–111 (1969)

  30. Slobodkin, L.B. and H.L. Sanders: On the contribution of environmental predictability to species diversity. Brookhaven Symp. Biol. 22, 82–95 (1969)

  31. Squires, H.J., O. Mora L., O. Barona M. and O. Arroyo Q.: Results of cruises 6907–6911 and 7001 of the chartered vessel Cacique on the Pacific Coast of Colombia. Estudios Investnes Proyecto Desarollo Presca marit. Colombia 5, 1–42 (1971)

  32. Tagatz, M.E.: Biology of the blue crab Callinectes sapidus Rathbun in the St. Johns River, Florida. Fishery Bull. Fish Wildl. Serv. U.S. 67, 17–33 (1968a)

  33. —: Growth of juvenile blue crabs Callinectes sapidus Rathbun in the St. Johns River, Florida. Fishery Bull. Fish Wildl. Serv. U.S. 67, 281–288 (1968b)

  34. Trojer, H.: Meteorologia y climatologia en la vertiente del Pacifico Colombiano. Revta Acta. colomb. Cienc. exact. fis. nat. 10, 199–219 (1958)

  35. Walker, G.: The occurrence, distribution and attachment of the pedunculate barnacle Octolasmis mülleri (Coker) on the gills of crabs, particularly the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab., Woods Hole 147, 678–689 (1974)

  36. Williams, A.B.: Marine decapod crustaceans of the Carolinas. Fishery Bull. Fish Wildl. Serv. U.S. 65, 1–298 (1965)

  37. —: The swimming crabs of the genus Callinectes (Decapoda: Portunidae). Fish. Bull. U.S. 72, 685–798 (1974)

Download references

Author information

Additional information

Communicated by J.S. Pearse, Santa Cruz

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Norse, E.A., Estevez, M. Studies on portunid crabs from the Eastern Pacific. I. Zonation along environmental stress gradients from the Coast of Colombia. Mar. Biol. 40, 365–373 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00395729

Download citation


  • Population Structure
  • Species Composition
  • Colombia
  • Salinity Tolerance
  • Stress Gradient