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Orientation and external morphology of burrows of the mangrove crab Ucides cordatus (Crustacea: Brachyura: Ucididae)

  • Camila M.H. dos Santos (a1) (a2), Marcelo A.A. Pinheiro (a1) (a2) and Gustavo Y. Hattori (a2) (a3)

The aim of the present study was to characterize the external morphology and the orientation of burrows constructed by the mangrove crab Ucides cordatus. Data were obtained from two mangrove forests of similar vegetation dominance (Laguncularia racemosa) but differing in flooding heights. These mangroves were located near Barra de Icapara, Iguape City (SP), Brazil, (24°50′36″S–47°59′53′W). A total of 221 burrows were examined (120 on the high mangrove and 101 on the low mangrove). External morphology of the burrows was recorded by photographs for categorization and description. The directions of the burrow openings were recorded using a geological compass and the declivities of the ducts were measured with a clinometer. Females constructed 70.8% at Site A and 69.4% at Site B of the occupied burrows with the opening facing the margin of the river (P < 0.001), whilst males showed no significant difference in the burrow orientation (P > 0.05) at either site. In females, the tendency for burrow orientation possibly has a reproductive connotation as larval dispersal may be favoured and enhanced by the tides. Four groups of distinct tracks related to the morphotypes and developmental stages of U. cordatus were observed. No sediment constructions associated with the burrows were recorded for this species. Declivity of the burrows from juveniles was lower than from adults (P < 0.05), probably caused by the differential growth of the chelipeds in this species.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: C.M.H. dos Santos, UNESP, Campus Experimental do Litoral Paulista (CLP), Praça Infante Dom Henrique, s/n, Parque Bitaru, CEP 11330-900, São Vicente (SP), Brazil email:
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