Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 99–111 | Cite as

Osmotic and ionic regulation in shore crabsCarcinus maenas inhabiting a tidal estuary

  • A. Winkler
  • D. Siebers
  • W. Becker


Shore crabsCarcinus maenas were exposed to salinities fluctuating according to the natural tidal rhythm. To this end they were maintained in net cages positioned in the estuarine waters of the river Elbe. The cages were lifted every hour, and between 8–12 specimens were analyzed for hemolymph concentrations of Na, K, Ca, Mg, and osmolality. The results obtained were compared with the respective data measured in external brackish water. In addition, the specific activity of Na−K-ATPase in a posterior gill was determined. Hemolymph Na and Mg as well as branchial Na−K-ATPase were also determined in crabs collected in the North Sea and the Baltic. The results show that inC. maenas living in salinities fluctuating with the tides by approx. 15‰ S, Na, K and Ca were hyperregulated, and Mg was effectively hyporegulated. The concentrations of all hemolymph ions and the activity of the Na−K-ATPase were kept constant over the whole tidal cycle. In Baltic crabs, Na was effectively hyperregulated and gill Na−K-ATPase was significantly elevated by a factor of ca 2 when compared with North Sea crabs. It is suggested that long-term hyperregulation of Na in constant salinities results from an increased number of Na−K-ATPase molecules which may change by synthesis or degradation following salinity stress. Constant hemolymph levels of hyperregulated Na in crabs inhabiting fluctuating brackish water are accomplished by activation of existing Na−K-ATPase by low Na and inhibition by higher ambient concentrations.


Salinity Stress Brackish Water Tidal Cycle Estuarine Water Ambient Concentration 
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Copyright information

© Biologische Anstalt Helgoland 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Winkler
    • 1
  • D. Siebers
    • 1
  • W. Becker
    • 2
  1. 1.Biologische Anstalt Helgoland (Zentrale)Hamburg 52FRG
  2. 2.Zoologisches Institut und Museum der Universität HamburgHamburg 13FRG

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