Role of grapsid crabs, Parasesarma erythrodactyla, in entry of mangrove leaves into an estuarine food web: a mesocosm study
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The influence of the crab Parasesarma erythrodactyla on the entry of the organic matter derived from Avicennia marina mangrove leaves in a sub-tropical mangrove ecosystem of southeast Queensland, Australia, was simulated using tidal mesocosms. Degradation of mangrove leaf organic matter was followed by analysing the fatty acid composition, carbon, and nitrogen isotopic signatures of the surface sediment and suspended particulate organic matter (SPOM) with and without the presence of crabs. Assimilation of mangrove organic matter by P. erythrodactyla was also assessed by stable isotope and fatty acid analyses in tissues and faeces. Results of the chemical tracer analyses question the adaptability of P. erythrodactyla to a diet comprised exclusively of mangrove leaves, and suggest that these organisms were dependent on additional food sources in their natural environment. Crab processing of senescent leaves significantly accelerated the transfer of mangrove organic matter to the surface sediments, as shown by a higher C/N ratio, a higher contribution of long-chain fatty acids and a more depleted C isotopic signature of sediment samples in the mesocosms with crabs compared to those without crabs.
Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)