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Mud crab predation on ribbed mussels in salt marshes


Marine Biology (Berlin) 107(1): 103-110
Mud crab predation on ribbed mussels in salt marshes
Mud crab (Panopeus herbstii H. Milne Edwards) predation on Atlantic ribbed mussels (Geukensia demissa Dillwyn) was studied by a series of laboratory and field experiments at two sites at Morehead City, North Carolina, USA from 1987 to 1989. Tidal elevation had no effect on predation intensity, although mud crabs were active only when they were submerged. Horizontal distance from the water-marsh edge significantly affected mussel mortality in one of two winter experiments, despite the occurrence of virtually all the crabs at the marsh edge. Of the juvenile mussels attached to adult mussels, those totally buried in the sediment suffered mortality from mud crab predation at a rate not detectably different from those exposed above the surface. Juveniles attached to adult conspecifics, however, experienced significantly less mortality than those attached to oysters. Interestingly, the two group of mussels (those attached to conspecifics and those attached to oysters) display shell morphological dimorphism. The more oblate shells of the mussels attached to oysters as compared to those attached to conspecifics might be induced by the higher predation rate. Alternatively, slimmer shells from individuals attached to conspecifics may be the result of living within physically compact mussel clumps.

Accession: 007574242

DOI: 10.1007/bf01313247

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