Inter-Research > MEPS > v392 > p143-155  
MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

via Mailchimp

MEPS 392:143-155 (2009)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08263

Spatial distribution of shore crabs Carcinus maenas in an intertidal environment in relation to their morphology, prey availability and competition

Isabel M. Smallegange1,3,*, C. (Toos) G. E. van Noordwijk1,4, Jaap van der Meer1,2, Henk W. van der Veer1

1Department of Marine Ecology, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), PO Box 59, 1790 AB, Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
2Institute of Ecological Science, Free University, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3Present address: Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK
4Present address: Department of Animal Ecology, Stichting Bargerveen / Radboud University Nijmegen, Toernooiveld 1, 6525 ED Nijmegen, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: Identifying the key determinants of benthic predator distributions is crucial in understanding the dynamics of predator and prey populations in intertidal environments. In this paper, we assessed the roles of predator morphology, prey availability and competition in determining the distribution of an important benthic predator, the shore crab Carcinus maenas (L.). The abundance of shore crabs at high tide on 3 intertidal mudflats in the Dutch Wadden Sea was assessed in relation to distance to the nearest gully, size, sex and colour of the crabs. Furthermore, food availability (bivalves, crustaceans, polychaetes) in the sampling sites was measured. Half of all crabs were found in the gullies adjacent to each mudflat, where the abundance of a prey species (the large brown shrimp Crangon crangon) was also highest. The spatial distribution of crabs between the gullies and the mudflats depended in an interactive way on the colour morph and sex of individuals. Comparing observed distributions of crabs with those predicted from a recently developed ideal free distribution model showed that crabs did not distribute themselves optimally in terms of maximising food uptake and minimising the strength of competition from conspecifics. The results highlight the yet underrated role of shore crabs as a potentially important predator of shrimps, and the need to incorporate morphological characteristics and different prey types into ideal free distribution models to test the optimal foraging behaviour of benthic crabs.


KEY WORDS: Blue mussel · Mytilus edulis · Cockle · Cerastoderma edule · Intertidal · Generalized functional response · 2-phenotypes interference model


Full text in pdf format
Supplementary appendix 
Cite this article as: Smallegange IM, van Noordwijk CGE, van der Meer J, van der Veer HW (2009) Spatial distribution of shore crabs Carcinus maenas in an intertidal environment in relation to their morphology, prey availability and competition. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 392:143-155. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08263

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
Facebook - - linkedIn