, Volume 537, Issue 1–3, pp 217–228 | Cite as

Population structure of the South American Estuarine crab, Chasmagnathus granulatus (Brachyura: Varunidae) near the southern limit of its geographical distribution: comparison with northern populations

  • Claudia Bas
  • Tomás Luppi
  • Eduardo Spivak


Crabs are among the most conspicuous and ecologically important invertebrates of the large intertidal zones that characterize estuarine and protected coastal areas in temperate regions. The habitat, population structure and breeding cycle of Chasmagnathus granulatus (Brachyura: Varunidae), a semiterrestrial burrowing crab endemic to the warm temperate coasts of the Southwestern Atlantic, were studied in San Antonio Bay (Argentina), near the southern limit of its range. San Antonio Bay has no freshwater input, winter is relatively colder, and summer warmer, than northern habitats of this species. Crabs lived both in vegetated and unvegetated zones, but density and sex ratio varied among dates and zones. The maximum observed density was 136 crabs/m2 , the maximum carapace width (CW) was 32 mm (males) and 29.8 mm (females), ovigerous females were found only in November and January, and the smallest ovigerous female measured 17 mm CW. The population structure, spatial distribution, and recruitment pattern of C. granulatusdid not differ between San Antonio Bay and northern habitats. The higher density, smaller maximum size and shorter reproductive cycle observed in San Antonio cannot be atributed to changes associated with a latitudinal cline and other factors, such as thermal amplitude and food availability, need to be studied.


Chasmagnathus granulatus breeding cycles sex ratio population structure temperature 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anger, K., Bas, C., Spivak, E., Ismael Luppi, D. T. 1994Hatching rhythms and dispersion of decapod crustacean larvae in a brackish coastal lagoon in ArgentinaHelgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen48445466Google Scholar
  2. Bas, C. C., Spivak, E. D. 1995Tolerancia a la salinidad en dos cangrejos estuariales, Chasmagnathus granulata y Cyrtograpsus angulatus VI Congreso Latinoamericano de Ciencias del MarMar del PlataArgentinaGoogle Scholar
  3. Bas, C. C., Spivak, E. D. 2000Effect of salinity on embryos of two Southwestern Atlantic estuarine grapsid crab species cultured in vitroJournal of Crustacean Biology20647656Google Scholar
  4. Bas, C.C, Spivak, E.D 2003Effects of embryonic salinity exposure on larval development in two populations of the estuarine crab Chasmagnathus granulatus Dana (Crustacea: Brachyura)Invertebrate Reproduction and Development43117123Google Scholar
  5. Bertness, M. D. 1999The Ecology of Atlantic ShorelinesSinauer Associates Inc. PublishersSunderland, Massachusetts, USAGoogle Scholar
  6. Bortolus, A.E, Schwindt Iribarne, O 2002Positive plant-animal interactions in the high marsh of an Argentinean coastal lagoonEcology83733742Google Scholar
  7. Boschi, E. 1964Los crustáceos decápodos Brachyura del litoral bonaerense (R Argentina)Boletín del Instituto de Biología Marina, Mar del Plata6199Google Scholar
  8. Botto, J. L. & H. R. Irigoyen, 1979. Bioecología de la comunidad del cangrejal. 1: Contribución al conocimiento biológico del cangrejo de estuario, Chasmagnathus granulata Dana (Crustacea, Decapoda, Grapsidae) en la desembocadura del Río Salado, provincia de Buenos Aires. Seminario Latinoamericano de Ecología Bentónica y Sedimentología de la Plataforma Continental del Atlántico Sur. UNESCO, Montevideo, Uruguay: 161–169.Google Scholar
  9. Cervellini, P. M., Gutierrez, M. M. , Ferrero, A 2000Datos biométricos en adultos de Chasmagnathus granulata Dana (Decapoda, Grapsidae) en el estuario de Bahía Blanca IV Jornadas Nacionales de Ciencias del MarPuerto MadrynArgentinaGoogle Scholar
  10. Charmantier, G., Giménez, L., Charmatier-Daures, M., Anger, K. 2002Ontogeny of osmoregulation, physiological plasticity and larval export strategy in the grapsid crab Chasmagnathus granulata (Crustacea, Decapoda)Marine Ecology Progress Series229185194Google Scholar
  11. D’Incao, F., Ruffino, ML, Silva , KG, Costa Braga, A 1992Responses of Chasmagnathus granulata Dana (Decapoda: Grapsidae) to salt-marsh environmental variationsJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology161179188Google Scholar
  12. Gavio, A., Spivak, E. D. 1994Uso del hábitat, crecimiento relativo y dimorfismo sexual en dos especies simpátricas de CyrtograpsusAbstract 2nd Taller sobre cangrejos y cangrejalesMar del Plata, ArgentinaGoogle Scholar
  13. Gavio, A., Luppi, T., Obenat, S. , Spivak, E 1994Historia de vida de Chasmagnathus granulata en la albúfera Mar ChiquitaAbstract 2nd Taller sobre cangrejos y cangrejalesMar del Plata, ArgentinaGoogle Scholar
  14. Giménez, L. 2002Effects of prehatching salinity and initial larval biomass on survival and duration of development in the zoea 1 of the estuarine crab, Chasmagnathus granulata, under nutritional stressJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology27093110Google Scholar
  15. Giménez, L., Anger, K. 2003Larval performance in an estuarine crab, Chasmagnathus granulata, is a consequence of both larval and embryonic experienceMarine Ecology Progress Series249251264Google Scholar
  16. Hadfield, M.G., Strathmann, M.F. 1996Variability, flexibility and plasticity in life histories of marine invertebratesOceanologica Acta19323334Google Scholar
  17. Hartnoll, R.G. 1982GrowthAbele, L.G. eds. The Biology of Crustacea, Vol. 2Academic PressNew York, USA111196Google Scholar
  18. Helmuth, B., Harley, C.D.G., Halpin, P.M., O’Donnell, M., Hofmann, G.E., Blanchette, C.A. 2002Climate change and latitudinal patterns of intertidal thermal stressScience29810151017Google Scholar
  19. Hines, A. 1989Geographic variation in size at maturity in brachyuran crabsBulletin of Marine Science45356368Google Scholar
  20. Iribarne, O., Bortolus, A., Botto, F. 1997Between-habitat differences in burrow characteristics and trophic modes in the southwestern Atlantic burrowing crab Chasmagnathus granulataMarine Ecology Progress Series155137145Google Scholar
  21. Iribarne, O. eds. 2001Reserva de biosfera Mar Chiquita: características físicas, biológicas y ecológicasEditorial MartinMar del Plata, ArgentinaGoogle Scholar
  22. Isla, F. I., Schnack, E. J., Aliotta, S 1995Evolution and sedimentary dynamics of San Antonio Bay, Rio Negro, ArgentinaAbstract 5th Congreso ABEQUA y 9th Simposio de Sedimentación CosteraNiteroi, RJ, BrazilGoogle Scholar
  23. Ituarte, R., Spivak, E., Luppi, T 2004Female reproductive cycle of the Southwestern Atlantic estuarine crab Chasmagnatus granulatus (Brachyura: Grapsoidea: Varunidae)Scientia Marina68127137Google Scholar
  24. Jones, M. B. , Simmons, MJ 1983Latitudinal variation in reproductive characteristics of a mud crab, Helice crassa (Grapsidae)Bulletin of Marine Science33656670Google Scholar
  25. Kinne, O. 1970Temperature: animals-invertebratesKinne, O. eds. Marine Ecology, Vol. 1 Environmental FactorsWiley-InterscienceLondon, England407514Google Scholar
  26. Koga, T. 1995Movements between microhabitats depending on reproduction and life history in the sand-bubbler crab Scopimera globosaMarine Ecology Progress Series1176574Google Scholar
  27. Lonsdale, D.J., Levinton, J.S. 1985Latitudinal differentiation in copepod growth: an adaptation to temperatureEcology6613971407Google Scholar
  28. López, L., Rodríguez, E. 1998Somatic growth in juveniles of the estuarine crab Chasmagnathus granulata Dana 1851 (Brachyura, Grapsidae), under laboratory conditions Investigaciones MarinasValparaiso26127135Google Scholar
  29. López-Greco, L., Rodríguez, E. 1999Annual reproduction and growth of adult crabs Chasmagnathus granulata (Crustacea, Brachyura, Grapsidae)Cahiers de Biologie Marine40155164Google Scholar
  30. Luppi, T., Bas, C., Spivak, E., Anger, K. 1997Fecundity of two grapsid crab species in the Laguna Mar Chiquita, ArgentinaArchive of Fisheries and Marine Research45149166Google Scholar
  31. Luppi, T., Spivak, E., Anger, K. 2001Experimental studies on predation and cannibalism of the settlers of Chasmagnathus granulata and Cyrtograpsus angulatus (Brachyura: Grapsidae)Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology2652948Google Scholar
  32. Luppi, T., Spivak, E., Anger, K., Valero, J.L. 2002Patterns and processes of Chasmagnathus granulata and Cyrtograpsus angulatus (Brachyura: Grapsidae) recruitment in Mar Chiquita coastal lagoon, Argentina EstuarineCoastal and Shelf Science55287297Google Scholar
  33. Luppi, T., Spivak, E., Anger, K. 2002Postsettlement growth of two estuarine crab species, Chasmagnathus granulata and Cyrtograpsus angulatus (Crustacea, Decapoda, Grapsidae): laboratory and field investigationsHelgoland Marine Research55293305Google Scholar
  34. Luppi, T., Spivak, E., Bas, C., Anger, K. 2004Molt and growth of an estuarine crab, Chasmagnathus granulatus (Brachyura: Varunidae), in Mar Chiquita coastal lagoon, ArgentinaJournal of Applied Ichthyology20333344Google Scholar
  35. MacDonald, P.D., Pitcher, T.J. 1979Age-groups from size-frequency data: a versatile and efficient method of analyzing distribution mixturesJournal of Fisheries Research Board of Canada369871001Google Scholar
  36. Piola, A.R., Scasso, L.M. 1988Circulación en el Golfo San MatiasGeoacta153351Google Scholar
  37. Ruffino, M.L., Telles, M.D., D’Incao, F. 1994Reproductive aspects of Chasmagnathus granulata Dana, 1851 (Decapoda, Grapsidae) in the Patos lagoon estuary, BrazilNauplius24352Google Scholar
  38. Sagarin, R.D., Gaines, S.D. 2002Geographical abundance distributions of coastal invertebrates: using one-dimensional ranges to test biogeographic hypothesesJournal of Biogeography29985997Google Scholar
  39. Scasso, L.M., Piola, A.R. 1988Intercambio neto de agua entre el mar y la atmósfera en el Golfo San MatiasGeoacta151331Google Scholar
  40. Schnack, E., Aliotta, S., Isla, F.I., Lizasoain, G.O. 1996Formas de fondo asociadas a un delta de reflujo macromareal, San Antonio Oeste, Provincia de Rio Negro, ArgentinaThalassas12121135Google Scholar
  41. Simons, M.J., Jones, M.B. 1981Population and reproductive biology of the mud crab, Macrophtalmus hirtipes (Jaquinot, 1853) (Ocypodidae), from marine and estuarine habitatsJournal of Natural History15981994Google Scholar
  42. Spivak, E.D. 1997Cangrejos estuariales del Atlántico sudoccidental (25°–41° S) (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura)Investigaciones Marinas, Valparaíso25105120Google Scholar
  43. Spivak, E., Anger, K., Luppi, T., Bas, C., Ismael, D. 1994Distribution and habitat preferences of two grapsid crab species in Mar Chiquita Lagoon (Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina)Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen485978Google Scholar
  44. Spivak, E., Anger, K., Bas, C., Luppi, T., Ismael, D. 1996Size structure, sex ratio, and breeding season in two intertidal grapsid crab species from Mar Chiquita Lagoon, ArgentinaNerítica10726Google Scholar
  45. Spivak, E., Luppi, T., Bas, C. 2001Cangrejos y Camarones: las relaciones organismo-ambiente en las distintas fases del ciclo de vidaIribarne, O. eds. Reserva de biosfera Mar Chiquita: Características Físicas, Biológicas y ecológicasEditorial MartinMar del Plata, Argentina129152Google Scholar
  46. Underwood, A. 1997Experiments in EcologyCambridge University PressCambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  47. Wolcott, T. G. 1988Ecology. In BurggrenBurggren, W. W.McMahon, B. R eds. Biology of the Land CrabsCambridge University PressCambridge, UK5596Google Scholar
  48. Zar, J. 1996Biostatistical Analysis3Prentice HallUpper Saddle River, New Jersey, USAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de Mar Del PlataMar del PlataArgentina
  2. 2.Comisión Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)Argentina

Personalised recommendations