Marine Biology

, Volume 161, Issue 10, pp 2345–2357 | Cite as

Body shape and burial behavior of the sand crab Emerita analoga (Stimpson 1857) in a reflective to intermediate morphodynamic range of sandy beaches

  • Rodrigo Veas
  • Eduardo Hernández-MirandaEmail author
  • Renato A. Quiñones
Original Paper


Sand crabs belonging to the genus Emerita are the dominant species on sandy beaches of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of America. The success of this genus has been attributed to the great phenotypic plasticity of life history traits that enables them to cope with swash climate variability from beach to beach. The burrowing rate and variation in carapace shape of Emerita analoga from south-central Chile were studied on a series of five sandy beaches with contrasting reflective-intermediate swash conditions (harsher swash to benign swash). Environmental sampling was carried out monthly from September 2009 to November 2010, while biological experiments were conducted in September and October 2010. A combination of field experiments, geometric morphometric tools and multivariate analysis was used to assess the relationship between burrowing behavior and carapace shape with variables of swash climate. Our results showed that (1) body shape of E. analoga is directly affected by the frequency of effluent line crossing, (2) burrowing rate of E. analoga is affected directly by shape variability, (3) burrowing rate is affected directly and indirectly by the swash climate variables: frequency of effluent line crossing and mean grain size of sediment. Thus, the physical conditions in the intertidal zone may be the main environmental constraints determining cephalothorax shape, with a wider cephalothorax on beaches with finer sand and more benign physical dynamics, and a narrower shape on beaches with coarser sand and harsher physical dynamics. The latter phenotype (narrower shape) probably allows compensating the high difficulty of burying in coarser sediments.


Beach Sandy Beach Geometric Morphometrics Canonical Variate Analysis Swash Zone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was funded by the Interdisciplinary Center for Aquaculture Research (INCAR; FONDAP Grant Nº15110027) and by the Programa de Investigación Marina de Excelencia (PIMEX) of the Faculty of Natural and Oceanographic Sciences (University of Concepción, Chile), supported by Celulosa Arauco y Constitución S.A. This paper is part of R.V.’s doctoral thesis. The comments and suggestions of four anonymous reviewers helped to improve the final version of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

227_2014_2510_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1874 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rodrigo Veas
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Eduardo Hernández-Miranda
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Renato A. Quiñones
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Programa de Postgrados en Oceanografía, Departamento de OceanografíaUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  2. 2.Programa de Investigación Marina de Excelencia (PIMEX), Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y OceanográficasUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  3. 3.Interdisciplinary Center for Aquaculture Research (INCAR)Universidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile

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