The predatory effects of Pachygrapsus marmoratus on populations of the intertidal limpet Patella depressa were analysed on rocky shores located on the central coast of Portugal. Nocturnal observations on crab feeding behaviour were conducted and experimental exclusion cages were set in the substratum to assess density effects on limpets. The results indicated that although crabs feed on adult limpets the predatory level was minimal. Crabs used consistent tactics to detach limpets from the substratum but the majority of the attacks were unsuccessful, possibly due to morphological and behavioural adaptations of limpets. An alternative recruitment hypothesis is advanced to explain non-significant differences between experimental treatments and a possible predatory role on shaping levels of recruitment on lower levels of the shore is considered.
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