Comparative Burrow Architectures of Resident Fiddler Crabs (Ocypodidae) in Indian Sundarban Mangroves to Assess Their Suitability as Bioturbating Agents
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Excavation of burrows by fiddler crabs (genus Uca) is an important component in mangrove ecosystem functioning. This bioturbation activity can be measured by analysing the burrow architecture of these crabs. The aim of the present study is to describe and evaluate inter specific differences in the burrow morphologies of four species of fiddler crabs (Uca rosea, Uca triangularis, Uca dussumieri and Uca vocans) using polyester resin casts of the burrows. For each of the species, sex and carapace width (CW; mm) were determined for all the individuals. Three burrow morphological characters viz. burrow diameter (BD; mm), total burrow depth (TBD; mm) and burrow volume (BV; cm3) were considered during the study. Density of each species throughout the year was also assessed. For all the species BD and BV were higher in case of males compared to the females and they showed significant positive correlation with the CW of the burrow inhabitants. The amount of sediment excavated by each crab was evaluated in terms of BV. Among all the studied species, U. rosea was established as the most potent bioturbative candidate in the studied mangrove due to their greater density and moderate ability to excavate burrow.
KeywordsMangroves Fiddler crabs Resin cast Burrow architecture Ecosystem functioning
The authors are thankful to the Head, Departmant of Zoology, University of Calcutta, India for the facilities provided. The senior research fellowship [UGC/938/Jr, Fellow (Upgradation)] by the University Grant Commission to the first author is thankfully acknowledged. The authors are also grateful to the villagers of Jhorkhali of Indian Sundarbans for their co operations.
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