Mangrove crab

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Mangrove crab

Mangrove crabs are crabs that live among mangroves, and may belong to many different species and even families. They have been shown to be ecologically significant in many ways. They keep much of the energy within the forest by burying and consuming leaf litter. Along with burrowing in the ground, these crustaceans can climb trees to protect themselves. The hermit crab and the mangrove crab are the only crustaceans that can climb trees as a defense mechanism. Furthermore, their feces may form the basis of a coprophagous food chain contributing to mangrove secondary production.[1][2]

Mangrove crab larvae are the major source of food for juvenile fish inhabiting the adjacent waterways, indicating that crabs also help nearshore fisheries.[3] The adult crabs are food for threatened species such as the crab plover.[4]

Their burrows alter the topography and sediment grain size of the mangrove,[5] and help aerate the sediment.[6] Removing crabs from an area causes significant increases in sulfides and ammonium concentrations, which in turn affects the productivity and reproductive output of the vegetation, supporting the hypothesis that mangrove crabs are a keystone species.[7]

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  1. ^ S. Y. Lee (1997). "Potential trophic importance of the faecal material of the mangrove crab Sesarma messa" (PDF). Marine Ecology Progress Series 159: 275–284. doi:10.3354/meps159275. 
  2. ^ David Paul Gillikin, Sammy De Grave & Jurgen F. Tack (2001). "The occurrence of the semi-terrestrial shrimp Merguia oligodon (De Man, 1888) in Neosarmatium smithi H. Milne Edwards, 1853 burrows in Kenyan mangroves" (PDF). Crustaceana 74 (5): 505–508. doi:10.1163/156854001750243081. 
  3. ^ A. I. Robertson, D. M. Alongi & K. G. Boto (1992). "Food chains and carbon fluxes". In A. I. Robertson; Daniel M. Alongi. Tropical Mangrove Ecosystems. Coastal and Estuarine Studies No. 41. Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union. pp. 293–326. ISBN 0-87590-255-3. 
  4. ^ J. Seys, G. Moragwa, P. Boera & M. Ngoa (1995). "Distribution and abundance of birds in tidal creeks and estuaries of the Kenyan coast between the Sabaki river and Gazi Bay". Scopus 19: 47–60. 
  5. ^ Janice H. Warren & A. J. Underwood (1986). "Effects of burrowing crabs on the topography of mangrove swamps in New South Wales". Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 102 (2–3): 223–236. doi:10.1016/0022-0981(86)90178-4. 
  6. ^ Peter V. Ridd (1996). "Flow through animal burrows in mangrove creeks". Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 43 (5): 617–625. doi:10.1006/ecss.1996.0091. 
  7. ^ Thomas J. Smith, III, Kevin G. Boto, Stewart D. Frusher & Raymond L. Giddins (1991). "Keystone species and mangrove forest dynamics: the influence of burrowing by crabs on soil nutrient status and forest productivity". Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 33 (5): 419–432. doi:10.1016/0272-7714(91)90081-L. 

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