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Estimating abundance and spatial distribution patterns of the bubble crab Dotilla fenestrata (Crustacea : Brachyura)
  • Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP)
  • Univ Eduardo Mondlane
  • Univ Lisbon
The bubble crab Dotilla fenestrata forms very dense populations on the sand flats of the eastern coast of Inhaca Island, Mozambique, making it an interesting biological model to examine spatial distribution patterns and test the relative efficiency of common sampling methods. Due to its apparent ecological importance within the sandy intertidal community, understanding the factors ruling the dynamics of Dotilla populations is also a key issue. In this study, different techniques of estimating crab density are described, and the trends of spatial distribution of the different population categories are shown. The studied populations are arranged in discrete patches located at the well-drained crests of nearly parallel mega sand ripples. For a given sample size, there was an obvious gain in precision by using a stratified random sampling technique, considering discrete patches as strata, compared to the simple random design. Density average and variance differed considerably among patches since juveniles and ovigerous females were found clumped, with higher densities at the lower and upper shore levels, respectively. Burrow counting was found to be an adequate method for large-scale sampling, although consistently underestimating actual crab density by nearly half. Regression analyses suggested that crabs smaller than 2.9 mm carapace width tend to be undetected in visual burrow counts. A visual survey of sampling plots over several patches of a large Dotilla population showed that crab density varied in an interesting oscillating pattern, apparently following the topography of the sand flat. Patches extending to the lower shore contained higher densities than those mostly covering the higher shore. Within-patch density variability also pointed to the same trend, but the density increment towards the lowest shore level varied greatly among the patches compared.
Issue Date: 
Austral Ecology. Carlton: Blackwell Publishing Asia, v. 30, n. 1, p. 14-23, 2005.
Time Duration: 
Blackwell Publishing Asia
  • burrow counting
  • density estimation
  • distribution patterns
  • Dotilla
  • intertidal zonation
  • sand flats
  • stratified random sampling
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Appears in Collections:Artigos, TCCs, Teses e Dissertações da Unesp

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