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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Recruiting Callinectes spp. distinguish between mangrove and marsh vegetation. Image: C. Chenery, T. Saxby, J. Thomas, Integration and Application Network, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (

Johnston CA, Caretti ON


Mangrove expansion into temperate marshes alters habitat quality for recruiting Callinectes spp.

Climate change is redistributing foundation species, with the potential to affect the population dynamics of inhabitant species if habitats differ in quality. Where tropical mangroves adjoin temperate saltmarshes, field and lab studies of Callinectes spp (blue crab) recruitment reveal differences in habitat use, preference, and survival among mangrove and marsh vegetation types. Affinity for and enhanced survival in marsh grass suggest that mangrove expansion diminishes wetland habitat for Callinectes spp – key estuarine species. Thus, changes between habitat-forming species, and not just the loss of structure per se, affect habitat quality, such that foundation species may not replace one another functionally where they displace each other spatially



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