Habitat, sexual and allometric influences on morphological traits of intertidal crabs

Vermeiren, P., Lennard, C., and Trave, C. (2021) Habitat, sexual and allometric influences on morphological traits of intertidal crabs. Estuaries and Coasts, 44. pp. 1344-1362.

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Intertidal crabs display distinct morphological traits that allow differential interactions with biotic and abiotic features of the intertidal landscape, but are also influenced by allometry and sexual selection. This study aimed to explore the influence of sexual, allometric and habitat factors on morphological variation in the intertidal mangrove crab assemblage. A standardized photographic protocol was developed using readily available, low-cost technology to capture the morphology of carapaces and claws as sets of Cartesian landmarks. Digitization errors were 1 to 2 orders of magnitude smaller than the variation among individuals. In Tubuca seismella and Tubuca signata (superfamily Ocypodoidea), species that have traditionally been studied for sexual dimorphism, standardized major claw sizes were 2.8 and 3.7, respectively, times larger for males than females. Sexual dimorphism in claw size was also observed for Metopograpsus frontalis and Parasesarma longicristatum (superfamily Grapsoidea), with the largest claw in males being 15% and 33%, respectively, larger than in females. In contrast to size, claw shape did not relate to sex, except for T. seismella. Carapace shape, although variable among individuals and displaying asymmetry, was unrelated to sex. Claw and carapace shapes displayed high correlations, with values around 0.78. Carapace shapes grouped into taxonomic families and linked to habitat preferences, while claw shapes varied along a taxonomic gradient. These results complement studies on crab morphology that focus on specific factors or species, and stress the importance of multiple, interacting factors including sexual, allometric and habitat influences as drivers of morphological trait variability.

Item ID: 66148
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1559-2731
Keywords: Sexual dimorphism, Allometry, Geometric morphometrics, Fiddler crabs, Photography
Copyright Information: his article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2020 07:37
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