Effect of Mudflat Trampling on Activity of Intertidal Crabs
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Many people visit intertidal mudflats to collect bait and seafood, or for eco-tourism and recreation, and as a consequence trample on the mudflats frequently. Trampling would not be life threatening to most animals in the intertidal flats as they have evolved hiding behavior to escape predation. However, what is the effect of trampling on the behavior of intertidal animals? In this study, the effect of mudflat trampling on the activity of crabs (e.g. fiddler crabs, sentinel crabs) living on the mudflat was explored. The number of crabs active on the mudflat surface in experimental plots (1.5 × 1.5 m2) before and after (10 min. and 30 min.) trampling of three different intensities (Heavy trampling = 60 steps; Moderate trampling = 20 steps; and No trampling) was compared in two different mudflat systems. After trampling, the number of crabs active on the surface decreased and was significantly lower than that of control plots. The more intensively trampled the mudflat was, the fewer crabs were active on the mudflat surface. Surprisingly, the number of active crabs did not recover even 30 min. after trampling. The results clearly support the hypothesis that trampling can severely interfere with the behavior of crabs living on intertidal mudflats.
Keywordsanthropogenic influence behavioral ecology conservation education recreational ecology
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