Role of fiddler crabs of a subtropical intertidal flat on the fate of sedimentary fatty acids
Fatty acid compositions of three ocypodid crabs, Uca vocans, U. lactea and Scopimera globosa, collected on a subtropical intertidal flat (Okinawa, Japan), were analysed as well as the surrounding surface sediment of their burrows, their food pellets and their faeces. U. vocans and U. lactea exhibited a higher concentration of fatty acids than S. globosa. Food pellets revealed a higher relative contribution of saturated fatty acids and lower amounts of polyunsaturated and branched fatty acids than in the surface sediment samples. These differences of fatty acid compositions suggest an initial selection of food before the particle sorting in the buccal region. This result, and also because of the relatively high fatty acid content of faeces, indicate that fiddler crabs play a significant role in the fate of these lipids in the subtropical intertidal flats. Comparative analysis of the fatty acid compositions of the different samples indicates that these fiddler crabs actively sorted bacteria in order to ingest them. Diatoms seem to be used in larger amount by U. vocans may be because of its higher mobility while looking for food. Other primary producers present in the environment, mangrove leaves and algae, have been sorted but contributed weakly to the organic matter pool of the surface sediment and therefore to the diet of the crabs.
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)