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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 638:95-105 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13249

Predicting the distribution of a portunid crab in Patagonian coastal waters

Paula de la Barra1,2,3,*, Guillermo Svendsen1,3,4, M. Alejandra Romero1,3,4, M. Soledad Avaca1,3,4, Maite Narvarte1,3,4

1Escuela Superior de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, San Martín 247, San Antonio Oeste 8520, Argentina
2Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Intendente Güiraldes 2160, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires 1428, Argentina
3Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Godoy Cruz 2290, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires 1425, República Argentina
4Centro de Investigación Aplicada y Transferencia Tecnológica en Recursos Marinos Almirante Storni, Güemes 1030, San Antonio Oeste 8520, República Argentina
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Ovalipes trimaculatus is a commercially important, cosmopolitan portunid crab. However, environmental conditions that drive its distribution have never been studied. Thus, we aimed to assess the habitat preferences of this species in northern Patagonia by developing a species distribution model. We obtained spatial quantitative data of the crab and its prey species from a benthic survey performed prior to commercial fishing in the area. We used measurements of environmental condition, biomass, richness and evenness of its prey as predictors, and modeled the density of O. trimaculatus through a delta-gamma model, and produced a map of its predicted biomass. Prey biomass, depth and substrate type were the most important variables for predicting the distribution of O. trimaculatus. The model predicts a restricted depth range, with maximum crab density at 10 m (the shallowest depth sampled) in bottom substrates of relatively fine granulometry, such as silty sand and silt. Prey biomass does not determine crab presence, but, where the crab is present, higher prey biomass correlates with higher crab abundance. Our results accurately predicted 1 of the 2 actual fishing grounds; hence, the model may be a useful tool for local fishers and managers.


KEY WORDS: Ovalipes trimaculatus · Biotic predictors · San Matías Gulf · Species distribution model


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Cite this article as: de la Barra P, Svendsen G, Romero MA, Avaca MS, Narvarte M (2020) Predicting the distribution of a portunid crab in Patagonian coastal waters. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 638:95-105. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13249

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